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Male hormones (called androgens) are needed for the prostate to work as it’s supposed to. This also keeps the prostate at a normal size. As men age, the prostate changes and grows, while androgen levels go down. These may cause changes in the cells that can lead to prostate cancer.

Tumors that grow in the prostate can cause problems with the urinary system. If it grows beyond the prostate, cancer can spread into nearby structures such as the rectum or bladder. This can also cause problems with how they work as well. It can also spread to lymph nodes or blood vessels and carry cancer to other sites in the body.

The types of prostate cancer are based on how it looks in a lab and where the cancer starts. The types are:

Symptoms of Prostate Cancer

The symptoms of prostate cancer can differ from person to person. Urine passes from the bladder to a tube and then out of the body. The prostate gland wraps around this tube. A tumor can press on this tube and cause urinary problems.

Early signs of prostate cancer may include:

Some of these issues are caused by other less serious problems. Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is a common cause. It is important to talk to your doctor if you have any of these symptoms.

Prostate cancer that has spread throughout the body may cause swelling in legs or pelvic area, numbness or pain in the hips, legs, or feet, and bone pain that doesn’t go away, or leads to fractures

Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer

Things that may increase the risk of prostate cancer include:

Reducing Your Risk for Prostate Cancer

Major risk factors for prostate cancer, such as your age, race, or family history can’t be changed. However, there are many things that men can do to reduce their risk of developing prostate cancer, including:

Screenings for Prostate Cancer

Screening can help to find cancer before it causes symptoms. There are two common tests to screen for prostate cancer.

Prostate Specific Antigen – Prostate specific antigen (PSA) is made by the prostate. It can be measured with a blood test. Levels can increase with prostate cancer. It can also increase because of:

Age, race, and other things can affect your PSA levels. Your doctor will look at all of these factors when looking at the PSA levels. If the level is abnormal for you, other tests may be done. A prostate biopsy is often the next step. It will remove a piece of prostate for testing to look for cancer.

Digital Rectal Exam

The prostate sits near the rectum. The doctor can feel the prostate through the wall of the rectum. This type of exam is called digital rectal exam (DRE). The health care provider inserts a gloved finger into the rectum. They use gentle pressure to feel for problems in the prostate. The US Preventive Services Task does not recommend DRE as a screening test. It may instead be used after an abnormal PSA test or symptoms.