Prostate Cancer

What is Prostate Cancer?

Prostate cancer refers to cancer that starts in the prostate. Besides skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer in American men.

  • Nearly all prostate cancers are adenocarcinomas, meaning they develop from the gland cells.
  • Prostate cancer tends to grow slowly. Most men with prostate cancer will die of causes other than prostate cancer.
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These risk factors may increase your chances for developing prostate cancer.

  • Being Male. Only men can get prostate cancer.
  • Prostate cancer is rare in men under 40 years old. However, the chance of having prostate cancer rises rapidly after age 50.
  • Prostate cancer is more common in Black men.
  • Family history of prostate cancer. Having a father, brother or son that had prostate cancer increases your risk.

Prostate cancer usually has no symptoms in the early stages. As the prostate cancer advances, some men might experience the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty urinating, including:
    • Problems starting urination,
    • Weak or interrupted flow,
    • Pain or burning during urination, and
    • Need to urinate more often, especially at night.
  • Blood in the urine or semen.
  • Pain in the back, hips or pelvis that does not go away.
  • Painful ejaculation.

Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) is the most common test used to screen for prostate cancer. It measures the levels of PSA in the blood. PSA is a substance made in the prostate. PSA blood levels can be higher in men who have prostate cancer. However, they may also be elevated due to other conditions that affect the prostate.

Talk to your healthcare provider about prostate screening. Researchers and healthcare providers continue to discuss the value of prostate cancer screening. You should discuss the potential benefits and harms of screening with your healthcare provider.

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Some forms of prostate cancer are so slow growing they may not require treatment. For those that need treatment, it may include:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation
  • Chemotherapy
  • Hormone therapy

Talk to your cancer doctor about treatment options available for your type and stage of prostate cancer. Your doctor can explain the risks and benefits of each treatment and their side effects.

Prostate Cancer in North Carolina

Prostate cancer was the second leading cause of cancer deaths in North Carolina men in 2021 (1,033 deaths) and is the most common cancer in men. 

It is estimated that 8,577 males in North Carolina will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and 1,162 males will die from prostate cancer in 2023.

Because there is no known cause for prostate cancer, it is difficult to determine how to prevent it. But you can reduce your risk of prostate cancer by having a healthy lifestyle.

NC Cancer Resource Hub

Tips to Reduce Your Risk

  • Be physically active. Strive to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity five days week and strength training at least twice a week.
  • Eat healthy. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Drink more water and fewer sugar-sweetened beverages. Create meal plans to cook at home.
  • Don’t drink alcohol or limit your alcohol intake. No more than one drink per day for women, two drinks per day for men.
  • Know your family health history, including cancer illnesses and deaths.
  • Quit tobacco and vaping use. Quitting takes practice! Coaching and medications can triple your chances of quitting for good.


Need help?

Talk to your healthcare provider, if you have one. You can also check out these resources: