Prostate Cancer: What Men Need to Know

More than 210,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year and more than 32,000 will die, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI). One in every six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetimes.

But a simple blood test called a PSA test can help catch prostate cancer early. The PSA test measures the level of prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a protein produced by the prostate gland, according to the American Cancer Society.

In its early stages, prostate cancer has no symptoms.

A man’s PSA level alone does not give doctors enough information to distinguish between benign prostate conditions and cancer, the NCI says. Most physicians do a PSA test and a digital rectal exam together as part of an annual screening for prostate cancer.

Doctors’ recommendations for screening vary. Some encourage yearly screening for men older than 50; some advise men who are at a higher risk for prostate cancer to begin screening at age 40 or 45. Others caution against routine screening.

The most common risk factor for prostate cancer is age. Nearly two-thirds of cases are in men older than 65, according to the Prostate Cancer Foundation. The average age is 69.

But there are other risk factors. The highest rate of prostate cancer occurs among African-American men; Asian and Native American males have the lowest rate.

If you had a father or brother with prostate cancer, your chances of prostate cancer are higher. A high-fat diet may also increase your chances of developing prostate cancer.