Your Guide to Preventing Prostate Cancer

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This information explains prostate cancer and its symptoms. It describes the risk factors for developing prostate cancer, and the eligibility factors for getting prostate cancer screening. It also gives prevention information, including how to lower your risk for prostate cancer.

What is prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer affects the cells in the prostate. The prostate is a walnut-sized gland that makes and stores semen. It is located below the bladder and in front of the rectum.

Figure 1. Prostate anatomy

Figure 1. Prostate anatomy

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What is my risk?

  • Age: More than 6 out of 10 prostate tumors are found in men 65 or older.
  • Genetics: About 5 to 10 of every 100 cases of prostate cancers may be related to genes passed down from blood relatives.
  • Ethnicity: All men are at risk of prostate cancer. However, prostate cancer is more common among Black men than other men. It also tends to be more aggressive.
  • Personal or family history: If your father, brother, or another close blood relative has had prostate cancer, your risk is higher. This is especially true if they were diagnosed before age 60.
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What are the signs?

Most people don’t notice any symptoms of prostate cancer. The first sign of the disease is usually found during a routine exam.

You may experience 1 or more of the following symptoms:

  • Needing to urinate (pee) more often during the night.
  • Trouble starting or stopping the flow of urine.
  • Feeling pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, or upper thighs.
  • Painful ejaculation or trouble having an erection (get hard for sex).
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How can I prevent prostate cancer?

Many risk factors such as age, race, and family history cannot be controlled. But there are some things you can do that could lower your risk of prostate cancer.

  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Get up and move!
  • Limit sugar and fat.
  • Have regular checkups.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about checking your PSA levels.
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What are the types of prostate screenings?

  • Digital Rectal Exam (DRE): A doctor will feel the prostate for swelling, inflammation, or other abnormal conditions, such as hardness or a nodule (a small, rounded bump).
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) test: This blood test measures your level of PSA, a protein made in the prostate gland. A PSA test can help find prostate cancer early.

Screening recommendations

  • If you are 45 to 49: Get a baseline PSA test.
  • If you are 50 to 70: Get PSA level checked.
  • If you are 71 to 75: Talk with your doctor about whether to get a PSA test.
  • If you are 76 and older: Prostate cancer screening is not recommended for men ages 76 or older who do not have any symptoms.

Talk with your healthcare provider about how often you should get follow-up PSA testing or more testing. Your schedule will be based on your test results, age, health, and family history of prostate cancer.

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Did you know?

  • 1 in 8 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer.
  • The average age at diagnosis is 66.
  • Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among American men.
  • Black men are 50% more likely to get prostate cancer than other men. They are twice as likely to die from the disease.
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Contact Us

For more information, visit us at mskcc.org or call 800-525-2225.

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