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All You Need to Know About Prostate Cancer – Top 5 Questions Answered

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Doctors say Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has a 99% chance of recovering from prostate cancer, as he prepares to undergo surgery today. But a cancer that a a 99% chance of a cure? Sounds incredulous, but that figures apparently true, especially when prostate cancer is detected early. Emeritus Senior Minister has previously made a full recovery from prostate cancer as well.

Here’s the top 5 things you need to know about this male-dominant disease.

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What is Prostate Cancer?

Prostate cancer is a disease which only affects men. Cancer begins to grow in the prostate – a gland in the male reproductive system.

The word “prostate” comes from Medieval Latin prostate and Medieval French prostate. The ancient Greek word prostates means “one standing in front”, from proistanai meaning “set before”. The prostate is so called because of its position – it is at the base of the bladder.

How does prostate cancer compare with other cancers?

A non-smoking man is more likely to develop prostate cancer than he is to develop colon, bladder, melanoma, lymphoma and kidney cancers combined. In fact, a man is 35% more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than a woman is to be diagnosed with breast cancer.

Are some men more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer?

Older age and a family history of the disease can all increase the likelihood of a man being diagnosed with the disease.

As men increase in age, their risk of developing prostate cancer increases exponentially. Although only 1 in 10,000 under age 40 will be diagnosed, the rate shoots up to 1 in 38 for ages 40 to 59, and 1 in 14 for ages 60 to 69. About 60% of all prostate cancers are diagnosed in men over the age of 65 and 97% occur in men 50 years of age and older.

Men with a single first-degree relative—father, brother or son—with a history of prostate cancer are twice as likely to develop the disease, while those with two or more relatives are nearly four times as likely to be diagnosed. The risk is highest in men whose family members were diagnosed before age 65.

How curable is prostate cancer?

As with all cancers, “cure” rates for prostate cancer describe the percentage of patients likely remaining disease-free for a specific time. In general, the earlier the cancer is caught, the more likely it is for the patient to remain disease-free.

Because approximately 90% of all prostate cancers are detected in the local and regional stages, the cure rate for prostate cancer is very high—nearly 100% of men diagnosed at this stage will be disease-free after five years.

What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?

If the cancer is caught at its earliest stages, most men will not experience any symptoms. Some men, however, will experience symptoms such as frequent, hesitant, or burning urination, difficulty in having an erection, or pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips or upper thighs.

Because these symptoms can also indicate the presence of other diseases or disorders, men who experience any of these symptoms will undergo a thorough work-up to determine the underlying cause of the symptoms.

These answers are adapted from information about prostate cancer, given by the Prostate Cancer Foundation.

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