The “top 10” facts you need to know

Here is a simple list of the most important facts everyone should know about prostate cancer:

  1. Around the world, hundreds of thousands of men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year — but (at least in the developed world) most of them will not die of this disease!
  2. Men whose fathers or grandfathers, uncles or brothers have been diagnosed with prostate cancer are at higher risk than men with no family history of this disease.
  3. At least in North America and the Caribbean, men of Black African ethnicity are at higher risk for prostate cancer than Caucasians, Hispanics, Native Americans, and Asians (but we don’t really know why).
  4. Two drugs (called finasteride and dutasteride) have each been shown to prevent prostate cancer for a prolonged period of time in about 25 percent of the men who take them, and these drugs have very few side effects.
  5. In its early and most curable stages, prostate cancer causes no symptoms at all.
  6. Every man should know and understand his risk for prostate cancer; the keys to risk management are regular physical exams and appropriate blood tests.
  7. Many men, particularly older men, with early stage prostate cancer may never need to be treated at all.
  8. There are many different ways to manage early stage prostate cancer, but there is no absolute proof that any one form of treatment for early stage disease is better than any other.
  9. Every form of treatment for prostate cancer has serious risks and serious possible side effects (from inability to control the need to urinate to loss of erections to deterioration of bone health).
  10. For any specific type of treatment, doctors with extensive experience using that treatment technique can reduce the patient’s risk for complications.
Content on this page last reviewed and updated May 17, 2009.
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