Prostate, cancer of

A cancerous growth in the prostate gland, of unknown cause. One of the most common cancers in men, it mainly occurs in elderly men. An enlarged prostate (see prostate, enlarged) may cause symptoms including difficulty in starting to pass urine, poor urine flow, and increased frequency of urination. Urine flow may eventually cease altogether. When there are no urinary symptoms, the first sign may be pain in the bones from secondary cancers. Screening tests detect blood levels of a protein called prostate specific antigen; if above a certain level, it may indicate prostate cancer. Rectal examination allows a doctor to assess the size and hardness of the gland. Ultrasound scanning and a biopsy confirm the diagnosis. Blood tests and a bone scan (see radionuclide scanning) may also be done. In an elderly man with a small prostate cancer that has not spread, no treatment may be recommended. For younger men, prostatectomy or radiotherapy may be performed. Widespread disease is usually controllable for some years with orchidectomy or drugs.


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