Prostate Cancer: Early Detection and Treatment

Prostate Cancer: Early Detection and Treatment for Minorities



Prostate cancer, which occurs in African-American men more than any other men in the U.S., involves the prostate gland, which is a part of the male reproductive system. The prostate is a walnut-sized gland located in front of the rectum and just below the bladder. Prostate cancer occurs when cells in the prostate gland don’t grow normally. Instead, the cells divide and make more cells than the body needs, thus forming a tumor.With cancer, cells from the tumor usually either spread to one or more nearby areas, or break off and spread to further away areas of the body. This process is called metastasis.

African Amerian men above 40 years of age should have a digital rectal examination by their doctor every year. In addition, prostate cancer can often be found early by testing the amount of prostate-specific antigen or PSA in the blood.

Prostate Cancer Highlights

Risk Factors for Cancer of the Prostate

being a man over 50 years of age, except
     for African American men, over 40 years of age
being African American
history of father or brother having had it
eating too many foods high in fat
eating a lot of red meat
not eating enough fruits and vegetables
living in North America, Northwest Europe, Australia, or Caribbean

Don’t believe the myth that an enlarged prostate is a sure sign of cancer. An enlarged prostate is common in men over 60 years of age. However, since some men with enlarged prostates may have cancer, it is very important that all men above this age get screened on a regular basis. We will discuss those screening procedures in the weeks to come.

Key Symptoms of Cancer of the Prostate and Enlarged Prostate

  • Pain during urination.
  • Frequent urination.
  • Difficulty starting to urinate.
  • An urge to urinate soon after urinating.
  • Urinating often during the night.
  • Feeling that the bladder is not completely empty.
  • Sudden uncontrollable urge to urinate.

Treatment for Cancer of the Prostate

Choices for treatment, which should be decided on by the man and his doctor, together, when prostate cancer has not spread are:

watchful waiting – with a digital rectal examination and PSA test being done on a regular basis, without treatment unless symptoms develop or there are signs that the tumor is growing.
surgery – removal of the prostate
external radiation therapy – destroying cancer cells by pointing radiation at the prostate
internal radiation therapy – surgically placing small radioactive pellets in or near the cancer to destroy the cells
hormone therapy – giving certain hormones to stop the cells from growing
cryotherapy – placing a small probe in or near the cancer to freeze and destroy the cancer cells.


  1. An enlarged prostate often develops in men over 60 years of age, and can even develop earlier in men at increased risk (see the list above).  An enlarged prostate often does not mean cancer.
  2. The earlier prostate cancer is diagnosed, the better the chance of its being cured or controlled.
  3. That’s why it’s so important for men above age 50 and African-American men above age 40 years to have a digital rectal examination every year.
  4. That’s why it’s so important for African American men above age 40 years, and all other men above 50 years to have a digital rectal examination every year.

Other key resources for cancer information are the American Cancer Society, and the National Cancer Institute.

The websites of both of these organizations can be visited directly from our Resource Directory.