Prostate cancer risks and symptoms

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, and a great time to schedule your routine prostate exam. Men at average risk for prostate cancer should start getting screened at age 50.

Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer

If you are at a higher risk for prostate cancer, you should start getting screened at age 40. 

Risk factors for prostate cancer include:

  • Sex. Only men are at risk.
  • Age. Men ages 50 and older are at higher risk. Most prostate cancers are found in men older than age 65.
  • Race. Prostate cancer is more common in African-American and Caribbean men of African ancestry than men of any other race. And it tends to happen when these men are younger. It's less common in Asian-American and Hispanic men than in non-Hispanic white men.
  • Family history of prostate cancer. Having a father or brother with prostate cancer greatly raises a man's risk for the disease. The risk is even higher if more than one family member has the cancer, especially if at a young age.
  • Chemical exposures. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says that men who were exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War are at higher risk for prostate cancer.
  • Genes. Men with certain inherited gene changes are at higher risk for prostate cancer. But only a small amount of prostate cancers are strongly linked to gene changes.

What are Your Risk Factors?

Talk with your health care provider about your risk factors for prostate cancer and what you can do about them. Take this quiz to test your knowledge about prostate cancer.

Symptoms of Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer often causes no symptoms in its early stages. By the time symptoms start, the cancer may have spread outside the prostate. When that happens, more extensive treatment may be needed.

Symptoms include:

  • A need to urinate often, especially at night
  • Weak or interrupted urine flow
  • Trouble starting to urinate
  • Trouble emptying the bladder
  • Being unable to urinate
  • Accidental urination
  • Painful or burning when you urinate
  • Blood in your urine or semen
  • Pain or stiffness in your lower back, hips, ribs or upper thighs
  • Loss of ability to have an erection
  • Weakness or numbness in legs or feet

Prostate Cancer Screening at University Health

Schedule an appointment for a routine prostate exam at University Health.

This article is provided by the StayWell Company, LLC. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.

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