Prostate cancer, also known as carcinoma of the prostate, is the development of cancer in the prostate, a gland in the male reproductive system. Most prostate cancers are slow growing; however, some grow relatively fast. The cancer cells may spread from the prostate to other parts of the body, particularly the bones and lymph nodes. It may initially cause no symptoms. In later stages it can cause difficulty urinating, blood in the urine, or pain in the pelvis, back, or when urinating. A disease known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate) may produce similar symptoms. Other late symptoms may include feeling tired due to low levels of red blood cells.
Factors that increase the risk of prostate cancer include: older age, a family history of the disease, and race. About 99% of cases occur in those over the age of 50. Having a first degree relative with the disease increases the risk 2 to 3 fold. In the United States it is more common in the African American population than the Caucasian population. Other factors that may be involved include a diet high in processed meat, red meat, or milk products or low in certain vegetables. Prostate cancer is diagnosed by biopsy.
Advanced prostate cancer can spread to other parts of the body, possibly causing additional symptoms. The most common symptom is bone pain, often in the vertebrae (bones of the spine), pelvis, or ribs. Prostate cancer in the spine can also compress the spinal cord, causing leg weakness and urinary and fecal incontinence.