While the thought of being diagnosed with cancer is a scary one, it's important to know that finding a suspicious lump may cause you to worry about something that, in the end, is harmless. For men, one worry is prostate cancer. Often this cancer shows no early symptoms, and when a symptom does appear, it may be in the form of a lump or growth on the prostate gland—which does not necessarily mean cancer.
The Prostate Gland
The prostate gland is the part of the reproductive system that produces semen. Located below the bladder, this walnut-sized organ is situated around the urethra, which is the tube that carries both urine and semen out of the body. Sometimes the prostate becomes enlarged—more than half the men in the U.S. over the age of 60 have an enlarged prostate. This is usually not cancer, but it can cause problems, such as trouble with urination.
Prostate cancer is a form of the disease that starts within your prostate gland and may spread to other parts of the body. Often a lump or enlargement is the first sign that something is amiss. According to the New York State Department of Health, prostate cancer usually develops very slowly, so symptoms such as lumps may not be detected at a very early stage. While the exact cause of prostate cancer is unknown, it may be a combination of factors that include heredity, hormones, environment, diet and ethnicity, according to the mayoclinic.com. The good news is that about 90 percent of prostate cancers are detected before they have had a chance to spread.
Symptoms of Prostate Cancer
The earliest symptoms of prostate cancer are often caused by an enlargement of the gland and can include urinary problems such as trouble urinating, weak stream of urine, and starting and stopping when urinating. More advanced symptoms include blood in your semen or urine, swelling in your legs, pelvic pain, bone pain and bone fractures.
What Else Could That Lump Be?
If your doctor finds a prostate gland lump, he or she will do more testing to determine what it is. Often a lump or enlargement is a simple infection or an enlarged prostate, both of which are treatable and not life-threatening.
Your prostate health depends on many factors, some of which you control. One of the best things you can do is to get regular physical examinations, including prostate exams if you are considered to be at risk. Leading a balanced lifestyle and eating a healthy diet can also have a positive affect on your prostate health. Eat meals that include plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, get regular exercise, and avoid smoking to help keep your prostate, and your entire body healthy and happy.