What Is Prostate Cancer?

What Is Prostate Cancer?

The prostate is a walnut-sized gland that weighs about 1 ounce. It surrounds the neck of a man’s bladder, specifically, the urethra. The urethra carries urine from the bladder of the body. Behind the prostate is the rectum, which is why doctors can feel the gland by hand from the recturm. The prostate makes a fluid that sustains semen.

The world renowned radiation oncology team at Orange County CyberKnife are experts in treating cancer of the prostate gland. Prostate cancer is the formation of abnormal cells in the prostate gland which create a lump. The cells can grow rapidly and sometimes spread to other parts of the body. It is the most common non-skin cancer for American men, affecting 1 in 7.

Your Orange County CyberKnife team will 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.

Almost all prostate cancers are considered 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. The other 10% of prostate cancers may be one of six other types of rare cancer and so knowledge about best treatments is limited.  

Prostate Cancer Risk Factors

There are only a few risk factors that have proven that they might affect a man’s risk of getting prostate cancer. There are many more that researchers think MAY have an impact. And, there are a few others that have been rumored to be risk factors, but there is no evidence linking them to prostate cancer. Having one or more risk factors doesn’t mean you’re going to get cancer.

  • Age. As you grow older, your risk of prostate cancer increases. 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. The average age at diagnosis of prostate cancer in the United States is 69 years. After that age, the chance of developing prostate cancer becomes more common than any other cancer in men or women.
  • Race/ethnicity. It’s not clear why, but if you’re an African-American man, you are more likely to contract prostate cancer and two-and-a-half times more likely to die from it than Caucasian men. Asian-American and Hispanic men are less likely to get prostate cancer compared to non-Hispanic whites. Asian men who live in Asia have the lowest risk.
  • Geography. 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 Orange County, 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. Researchers believe this is because of 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.

  • Family history. If you have a father or brother with prostate cancer, you are twice as likely to also have the disease. If your family member was diagnosed at less than 55 years old, or if more than two family members were diagnosed, your risk is even greater. This fact seems to show there could be a genetic or inherited factor associated with prostate cancer. Still, most men who have prostate cancer, don’t have any family history.
  • Gene changes. Several inherited gene changes seem to raise prostate cancer risk, but they probably account for only a small percentage of cases overall.
  • Potential Risks. Several factors are being studies and some have shown the possibility of having an effect on the risk of prostate cancer, but are inconclusive. They include: diet, obesity, smoking, chemical exposures, inflammation of the prostate, sexually transmitted diseases, and vasectomy.
  • Myths: 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.

Find Out More By Contacting Us Today

At Orange County CyberKnife, you’ll find a variety of radiotherapy options to treat both cancerous and non-cancerous tumors throughout the body, including the non-surgical CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery system. Find out more about prostate cancer here:

If you have more questions after reading these pages, don’t hesitate to give us a call at (714) 962-7100 or reach out to us through our Contact Us page. Our knowledgeable Southern California staff will be happy to answer all of your questions.