Prostate cancer is a relatively slow growing form of cancer that originates in the prostate gland. The specific causes of prostate cancer are unknown. However, it is known that the male testosterone levels affect the growth rate and development of this type of cancer. Testosterone is a hormone that is produced primarily in the testicles, but also in small amount by the adrenal glands. The risk of developing prostate cancer increases with a man’s age, but because it is a slowly growing form of cancer many patients can have prostate cancer for several years before it has grown to a point in which it begins to cause symptoms. Other risk factors for prostate cancer include:
- Family history of the disease
- African American men are more often affected than men of other races.
- Some studies indicate that diets high in protein and animal fat have a higher risk for development of prostate cancer.
Because prostate cancer causes enlargement of the gland the initial symtoms are related to the gland pressing into the surrounding tissues and structures. The first symptom that is present in this form of cancer is difficulty urinating due to pressure on the urethra from the enlarging gland. The second most common finding is an elevated PSA or prostate specific antigen. This is a blood test that can be routinely performed with annual physicals for men.