Fogelberg Death Puts Spotlight on Prostate Cancer

The death of "Leader of the Band" singer Dan Fogelberg at the age of 56 highlights the dangers of prostate cancer, a deadly disease and the second most common form of cancer among American men. Click here for more about Fogelberg

The American Cancer Society estimates that about 218,890 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer by the end of this year and about 27,050 men will die from it.

Here are some basic facts about prostate cancer:

What is it?

Prostate cancer occurs when a malignant tumor forms in the prostate, a part of the male sex organs. Malignant tumors are abnormal growths of cells that are aggressive and invasive and take much-needed blood and nutrients away from healthy cells.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of prostate cancer do not usually appear until the cancer is in advanced stages. Symptoms include problems with urination, pain with ejaculation, and lower back pain.

Who’s at risk?

Prostate cancer is the second most common form of cancer in American men. Most men affected are older than 65, while it rarely appears in men younger than 45. Rates of prostate cancer are the highest among African American men. Some risk factors include a close family history of the disease, consuming a diet high in animal fat and meat, smoking, excessive alcohol use, and obesity.

What are the treatment options?

The most common treatment is a radical prostatectomy, a surgery where the prostate and most of the surrounding tissues and lymph nodes are removed. Additional treatment options include radiation therapy and hormone therapy.

What are the ways to prevent it?

Men in their 40's or 50's should have annual prostate exams, especially those with symptoms or risk factors of prostate cancer.

Sources: The Check List by Dr. Manny Alvarez; The Merck Manual 18th Edition;