Prostate cancer is a disease of the prostate, a gland in the male reproductive system. The prostate is located in front of the rectum and under the bladder. It surrounds the urethra, the tube through which urine flows. Prostate cancer can be fatal, while successful treatment of the disease can also cause unpleasant side effects like problems with bladder control and impotence.
Prostate cancer usually grows slowly and initially remains confined to the prostate gland, where it may not cause serious harm. However, some types of prostate cancer are aggressive and can spread quickly. Early detection – when the cancer is confined to the prostate and has not spread – greatly increases a patient's chance for successful treatment.
Each year, more than 186,000 American are diagnosed with the disease. According to the National Cancer Institute, "Based on rates from 2004 to 2006, 15.9 percent of men born today will be diagnosed with cancer of the prostate at some time during their lifetime. This number can also be expressed as one in six men will be diagnosed with cancer of the prostate during their lifetime."
While researchers have not determined what causes prostate cancer, studies have shown some specific risk factors that may be linked to an increased risk of developing prostate cancer. Risk factors are variables associated with an increased risk of developing a disease or infection. Some risk factors, like age, are uncontrollable, while other risk factors, like diet and lifestyle can be controlled. Advanced age is the most certain risk factor for prostate cancer. The disease is rare for men before age 50 and four out of five cases are diagnosed in men over age 65. However, it is important to note that many men who develop prostate cancer in their elder years do not display symptoms of the disease and ultimately die of other causes.
Studies also show a diet high in dairy products, animal fat and calcium may be linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer, although the increase may be small. More studies are needed to determine if a low-fat diet helps prevent prostate cancer. Also, African American men have the highest frequency of prostate cancer, while native Japanese men have the lowest frequency of prostate cancer in the world.
Prostate cancer is the second most common type of cancer among men in the United States. Only skin cancer is more common. More research is necessary to discover more information about the disease that can lead to successful prevention and treatment.
As research continues worldwide, Major League Baseball has teamed up with three charities supporting cancer research and education – the Prostate Cancer Foundation, Stand Up to Cancer and Susan G. Komen for the Cure – to promote the new All-Star Charity 5K & Fun Run. Participants will run and walk on a baseball-themed course featuring baseball legends and mascots beginning at Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals and host of the 2009 MLS All-Star Game. The run will finish at America's Center, home of the MLB All-Star FanFest. Other events include a charity concert and community service initiatives. For more information, go to www.prostatecancerfoundation.org.
The Prostate Cancer Foundation Home Run Challenge asks everyone to join the fight against prostate cancer by raising money for research through baseball. With support from Major League teams, players, managers and their coaching staffs, and umpires, each home run hit in 60 selected games, played from June 11 to 21, 2009 will raise money to fight prostate cancer. The Philadelphia Phillies will be participating during three games: Saturday, June 13 against the Boston Red Sox; Tuesday, June 16 and Wednesday, June 17 against the Toronto Blue Jays; and Saturday, June 21 against the Baltimore Orioles. All are home games. Chase Utley is the payer representative and Charlie Manuel is the PCF Team Manager for the Phillies. For more information, go to www.prostatecancerfoundation.org/hrc.