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Routine screening is key to early detection

A man walking a dog down a suburban sidewalk

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men (after skin cancer), but it can usually be treated successfully if diagnosed before metastasis, or spreading to other parts of the body (most commonly the bones). So early detection is vital.

Prostate cancer can often be found early by testing for prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels in a man’s blood. Another way to find prostate cancer early is the digital rectal exam (DRE), in which the doctor puts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to feel the prostate gland.

To decide if and when screening is right for you, talk to your doctor, and read the American Cancer Society Recommendations for Prostate Cancer Early Detection. And if you ever receive a diagnosis of prostate cancer, ask your doctor for a referral to our Specialists (below). 

Preventive Strategies

Some research has suggested that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) use may reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Others have linked NSAID use with a higher risk of death from the disease. This is a controversial area, and results have not been confirmed.

There are many benefits to maintaining a healthy body weight and exercising that go beyond preventing prostate cancer, but it may help reduce a person's risk.

Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer

The exact cause of prostate cancer is not known, but there are some known risk factors.

It’s rare among men under the age of 45 years, with an increasing risk after the age of 50.

Ethnic Origin
Prostate cancer is more common among African-American men than non-Hispanic white men. Asian-Americans, in contrast, are at a lower risk than other groups.

Family History & Genetics
A man has a higher risk of developing prostate cancer if his brother or, to a lesser extent, his father has had it. Having an identical twin who has it raises the risk dramatically.

There are also several gene mutations that may cause prostate cancer in a small percentage of cases.

Some studies have suggested that a diet high in red meat or high-fat dairy products may increase a person’s chances of developing prostate cancer, but more research is needed to confirm a link between diet and prostate cancer.

It is often believed that obesity is linked to the development of prostate cancer, but the American Cancer Society maintains that there is no clear link.

Agent Orange
Exposure to Agent Orange, a chemical weapon used in the Vietnam war, may possibly be linked to the development of more aggressive types of cancer, but the extent of this has not been confirmed.

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