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Prostate Cancer

The prostate is a small gland positioned in front of the rectum around the urethra (the exit tube from the bladder, which runs through the penis). Prostate cancer begins when cells in this small gland begin to grow uncontrollably. Most prostate cancers are adenocarcinoma, which develop from the gland cells that make the prostate fluid that is added to the semen. Other more rare types of prostate cancer include sarcomas, small cell carcinomas, neuroendocrine tumors (other than small cell carcinomas) and transitional cell carcinomas.

Prostate cancers usually grow slowly and can have a limited effect on men’s lives. Researchers have discovered a few factors that may increase a man’s risk of getting prostate cancer. These include being over 65 years of age; being an African-American or Caribbean man of African ancestry; living in North America, northwestern Europe, Australia and on Caribbean islands; having it run in the family and inherited gene changes. Other less clear factors include diet, obesity, smoking, exposure to chemicals, inflammation of the prostate, sexually transmitted infections and having had a vasectomy.

Stages of Prostate Cancer

Stage 1

The doctor can’t feel the tumor or see it with an imaging test such as transrectal ultrasound (it was either found during a transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) or was diagnosed by needle biopsy done for a high prostate-specific antigen [PSA]). The cancer has not spread to nearby lymph nodes or elsewhere in the body.

OR

The tumor can be felt by digital rectal exam or seen with imaging such as transrectal ultrasound and is in one half or less of only one side (left or right) of the prostate. The cancer has not spread to nearby lymph nodes or elsewhere in the body.

OR

The prostate has been removed with surgery, and the tumor was still only in the prostate. The cancer has not spread to nearby lymph nodes or elsewhere in the body.

Stage 2A

The doctor can’t feel the tumor or see it with imaging such as transrectal ultrasound (it was either found during a transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) or was diagnosed by needle biopsy done for a high PSA level). The cancer has not spread to nearby lymph nodes or elsewhere in the body.

OR

The tumor can be felt by digital rectal exam or seen with imaging such as transrectal ultrasound and is in one half or less of only one side (left or right) of the prostate. Or the prostate has been removed with surgery, and the tumor was still only in the prostate.The cancer has not spread to nearby lymph nodes or elsewhere in the body.

OR

The tumor can be felt by digital rectal exam or seen with imaging such as transrectal ultrasound. It is in more than half of one side of the prostate or it is in both sides of the prostate. The cancer has not spread to nearby lymph nodes or elsewhere in the body.

Stage 2B

The cancer has not yet spread outside the prostate. It might (or might not) be felt by digital rectal exam or seen with imaging such as transrectal ultrasound. The cancer has not spread to nearby lymph nodes or elsewhere in the body.

Stage 3A

The cancer has not yet spread outside the prostate. It might (or might not) be felt by digital rectal exam or seen with imaging such as transrectal ultrasound. The cancer has not spread to nearby lymph nodes or elsewhere in the body.

Stage 3B

The cancer has grown outside the prostate and might have spread to the seminal vesicles, or it has spread into other tissues next to the prostate, such as the urethral sphincter (muscle that helps control urination), rectum, bladder, and/or the wall of the pelvis. It has not spread to nearby lymph nodes or elsewhere in the body.

Stage 3C

The cancer might or might not be growing outside the prostate and into nearby tissues. It has not spread to nearby lymph nodes or elsewhere in the body.

Stage 4A

The tumor might or might not be growing into tissues near the prostate. The cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes but has not spread elsewhere in the body.

Stage 4B

The cancer might or might not be growing into tissues near the prostate and might or might not have spread to nearby lymph nodes. It has spread to other parts of the body, such as distant lymph nodes, bones, or other organs.

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