The prostate gland is a sex organ located at the base of the male urinary bladder. It produces part of the seminal fluid, the liquid that helps transport sperm outside the body. Cancer of the prostate most often occurs in men over age 55, with African-American men being one of the highest-risk groups. Prostate cancer may produce no symptoms. When symptoms do appear, they include difficulty in starting or stopping the urinary stream; the inability to urinate; a frequent need to urinate; and pain or burning when urinating. You may also notice blood in the urine, or have consistent pain in the lower back or pelvis. Because prostate cancer is often discovered during a routine examination before symptoms are present, men age 50 and over should have a digital rectal exam as part of their annual check-up. Those at high risk may want to be tested earlier. This type of cancer tends to grow slowly. When detected early, prostate cancer can usually be cured. Treatment will depend on factors like the patient's age and health, and the stage of the cancer, and may include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, or possibly hormone therapy. When the patient is elderly, a doctor may suggest 'watchful waiting,' in which progress of the disease is carefully monitored. For more information about prostate cancer, contact a health care specialist.
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