What is Prostate Cancer?

Ralph Stowe is featured on a RWJ TV Commercial

Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer diagnosed in men and the second leading cause of cancer death in American men.  About 1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime.  Most men diagnosed with prostate cancer do not die from it.  Early detection of prostate cancer leads to a better chance of successful treatment and can be cured.  Men should have a discussion with their physicians about screening tests for prostate cancer starting at age 50 years old.  Men at a higher-than-average risk should begin conversations with their physicians starting at age 40 to 45 years of age.  

African-American men have a greater risk of developing prostate cancer than any other ethnic groups with the cancer more likely to be aggressive or advanced. Other high-risk factors include a family history of prostate or breast cancer, men who have more than one close relative diagnosed with prostate cancer before the age of 65, and the risk of prostate cancer generally increases in all men as they age.

Are there any screening exams for prostate cancer?

  • The PSA test is a blood test to check the level of prostate-specific antigen in your blood.  

  • During a digital rectal exam (DRE) a doctor will insert a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to examine your prostate.  This test may be done with the PSA or the PSA may be done alone.

  • Other tests may include a transrectal ultrasound for further evaluation or prostate biopsy.  A biopsy is often done using a thin needle that is inserted into the prostate to collect a sample of cells for testing.  The cells are analyzed in a lab to check for cancer cells.