LONG ISLAND, NY – Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in men. It starts in the prostate gland, which is a small walnut-shaped gland that is responsible for the production of seminal fluid. Prostate cancer is often a slow growing disease, but in some cases and depending on certain risk factors, it can be an aggressive disease and spread rather quickly. When prostate cancer is identified early and is still confined to the prostate gland, the cure rate is very high.
Here are some quick facts about prostate cancer:
- It is estimated that in 2015 in the United States, there will be about 220,800 new cases of prostate cancer and about 27,540 deaths from prostate cancer.
- About 1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime.
- About 6 cases in 10 are diagnosed in men aged 65 or older. The average age at the time of diagnosis is about 66.
- About 1 in 38 men will die of prostate cancer.
- Race/ethnicity: African-American men and Caribbean men are more likely to develop prostate cancer compared to men of other races. African-American men are more than twice as likely to die of prostate cancer compared to Caucasian men. Prostate cancer occurs less often in Asian-American and Hispanic/Latino men than in non-Hispanic whites.
- Family history of prostate cancer: Having a father or brother with prostate cancer more than doubles a man’s risk of developing this disease. The risk is higher for men who have a brother with the disease than for those with a father with it. The risk is significantly higher for men with multiple family members who have had prostate cancer, especially if those family members were younger at the time of diagnosis.
- Age: The risk for developing prostate cancer increases with age, especially after 50. About 6 in 10 cases of prostate cancers are found in men over the age of 65. It is much less common in younger men, but men younger than 50 do get prostate cancer too.
- Diet: A diet high in red meat or high-fat dairy products may increase a man’s risk for developing prostate cancer. Men who eat these types of diets also tend to eat less healthy foods like vegetables and fruits, which are important for maintaining a healthy diet.
- Obesity: Some studies suggest that obesity may be linked to a higher risk of developing prostate cancer. However, being obese seems to be associated with a lower risk of getting a low-grade prostate cancer, but a higher risk of getting more aggressive prostate cancer. Obese men may also have a higher risk for developing more advanced prostate cancer and of dying from the disease.
- Geographic location: North America, northwestern Europe, Australia, and the Caribbean islands are most commonly affected by cases of prostate cancer. It is less common in Asia, Africa, Central America, and South America. While it is unclear as to why this is, it is likely due to people being screening more in certain developed countries. Lifestyle factors such as diet may also play a role.
- Prostate inflammation: Prostate inflammation, aka prostatitis, may increase a man’s risk of developing prostate cancer. Inflammation is often present in prostate tissue samples that also contain cancer.
- Genetics: Inherited mutations of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes may increase the risk of developing prostate cancer. These genes are more commonly known for increasing the risk of breast and ovarian cancers. Lynch syndrome (aka hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer) may also increase a man’s risk for developing the disease.
- Vasectomy: Some studies suggest that men who have had a vasectomy may have an increased risk for developing prostate cancer. However, other studies have not found a link between having a vasectomy and prostate cancer. More research is needed to confirm this.
- Smoking: While there is not much evidence suggesting that smoking increase a man’s risk for developing prostate cancer, some have found a link between smoking and an increased risk of dying from the disease.
- Workplace exposures: Being exposed to certain workplace chemicals such as toxic combustion products may increase the risk of developing prostate cancer.
Dr. Samadi is a board-certified urologic oncologist trained in open and traditional and laparoscopic surgery, and an expert in robotic prostate surgery. He is chairman of urology, chief of robotic surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital and professor of urology at Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine. He is a medical correspondent for the Fox News Channel’s Medical A-Team and the chief medical correspondent for am970 in New York City, where he is heard Sundays at 10 a.m.