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Understanding Prostate Cancer.

Prostate cancer happens when cells in the prostate begin to grow out of control and can then invade nearby tissues or spread throughout the body. Prostate cancer remains the most commonly diagnosed solid tumor in US men. The downward trend has generally been consistent from the peak of 41,800 deaths reported by the American Cancer Society in 1997. This mortality statistic is worrisome; however, it is important to note that more men die with prostate cancer than from prostate cancer.

As the cells multiply, they form a mass called a tumor. Tumors are cancerous only if they are malignant. This means that they encroach on and invade neighboring tissues because of their uncontrolled growth.

Early diagnoses can be made by screening men for prostate cancer. Screening is done, as mentioned previously, by routine yearly digital rectal examinations beginning at age 40 and the addition of an annual PSA test beginning at age 50. The purpose of the screening is to detect early, tiny, or even microscopic cancers that are confined to the prostate gland.

Treatment for prostate cancer may vary according to the stage of the cancer, this may include surgical removal, radiation, chemotherapy, hormonal manipulation or a combination of these treatments. The key to curing prostate cancer, however, ultimately will come from an understanding of the genetic basis of this disease. Genes, which are chemical compounds located on the chromosomes, determine the characteristics of individuals.
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