Prostate Cancer

About Prostate Cancer

The prostate is a gland that surrounds the neck of a man’s urethra or bladder and makes a fluid that sustains semen, necessary for reproduction. It’s about the size of a golf ball and weighs about an ounce. The urethra is the organ that carries urine from the bladder out of the body. The rectum is located directly behind the prostate.

Affecting one in seven men, cancer of the prostate is the most common type of cancer in men, outside of skin cancer. Prostate cancer happens when abnormal cells form in the prostate gland and create a tumor.  The radiation oncology team at Mat-Su Valley Comprehensive Cancer Center are experts in treating cancer of the prostate gland. The cancer center offers a variety of radiation treatment options with clinically proven results.

Almost all primary prostate cancers are of the acinar adenocarcinoma type (90%). This type of cancer begins in the prostate gland cells, grows slowly and is not likely to spread. There are a few subtypes of adenocarcinoma, but they are all treated the same. Occasionally, these cancerous cells can grow rapidly and spread to other parts of the body. These types of cancer make up the other 10% of prostate cancers. Within this 10% are six sub-types of rare cancer that don’t have the clinical trials necessary to know as much about the most effective treatment.

The prostate is also a common location for metastatic cancer. These are other cancers, such as breast cancer or lung cancer, that have traveled, or metastasized, to the prostate and must be treated there.

If you’ve been diagnosed with prostate cancer, your Palmer oncologists will work with your medical team to discuss the array of advanced non-surgical radiation treatment options available to you and the success rates with each type. When caught early, before spreading to other parts of the body, prostate cancer is extremely treatable as shown in the chart below:

Prostate Cancer Survival Rates*
5-Year Survival Rate 10-Year Survival Rate 15-Year Survival Rate
99% 98% 95%
* Percent still living after initial diagnosis. Includes all stages of men who die of prostate cancer.

Prostate Cancer Risk Factors

There seem to be some differences in risk factors for the slower-growing cancer that affect most men and the rare, aggressive cancer. Risk factors for the slower-growing, more common cancer are some that you can’t really do anything about They include:

  • Age: The risk of prostate cancer increases with age, with the average age of 69 when diagnosed. More than 65% of all prostate cancers are diagnosed in men over the age of 65. For men under 40, the disease is unlikely (only 1 in 10,000 men will be diagnosed.) If you’re 40 to 59, you have a 1 in 38 chance; and for 60 to 69, 1 in 14 chance.
  • Race: If you are an African American male, you’re more likely to get prostate cancer and two-and-a-half times more likely to die from it, compared to Caucasian men. White men, though are more likely to get the disease that Asian-American or Hispanic men. Asian men who live in Asia have the lowest risk.
  • Family history/genetics: A man with a father or brother who developed prostate cancer is twice as likely to develop the disease. This risk is further increased if the cancer was diagnosed in family members at a younger age (less than 55 years of age) or if it affected three or more family members.
  • Where you live: You may be at greater risk of prostate cancer depending on what part of the world and the United States that you live in. If you live north of 40 degrees latitude, which is definitely north of Palmer, but also north of Philadelphia, PA, Columbus, OH, and Provo, UT, you have the highest risk of dying from prostate cancer of any men in the U.S. This may be due to the lack of Vitamin D caused by diminished sunlight during three months of the year.

Prostate cancer is also most common in North America, northwestern Europe, Australia, and on Caribbean islands. It is less common in Asia, Africa, Central America, and South America. The reasons for this are not clear, but may be related to the ability to screen more patients in developed countries. Other lifestyle differences might be important as well. For example, for men in the U.S., the risk of developing prostate cancer is 17%. For men who live in rural China, it’s 2%. However, when Chinese men move to the western culture, their risk increases substantially.

The following factors, while perhaps not playing a role in the risk of slow-growing prostate cancer, seem to be of concern for developing the rare prostate cancer:

  • Smoking
  • Lack of Vegetables – especially the broccoli family
  • Obesity
  • Tall height
  • Lack of exercise and a sedentary lifestyle
  • High calcium intake
  • Vasectomy
  • STDs
  • Chemical exposure

Other risk factors are pure myth as they have NOT proven any association with prostate cancer. They include: level of sexual activity, medications (aspirin, statin), alcohol, Vitamin E.

Use these links to find out more about prostate cancer:

We’re Here To Answer All Your Questions

Don’t wait to contact the experts at Mat-Su Valley Comprehensive Center. Our board-certified radiation oncologists are ready to answer your questions and explain the variety of radiation treatment options that are available to you in Palmer. Please give us a call at 907-707-1333 to get started on a treatment plan this is best for your individual circumstances. Our Palmer cancer treatment center is equipped with the latest radiosurgery and radiotherapy equipment to best reach and destroy cancerous cells.