Prostate cancer

male reproductive organ cancer

Prostate cancer is the uncontrolled growth of cells in the prostate, a gland in the male reproductive system below the bladder.


  • Writer Perry Brass was diagnosed with prostate cancer in March 2016. Three months later he had a radical prostatectomy, removing his entire prostate. Brass, then 68, was lucky: He lives in New York City, home to top-notch doctors and a medical community more informed about LGBTQ health.
    “I’ve been a gay activist — and been out — so long that I took it for granted I could talk openly to my doctors,” he told NBC News. But even he was unprepared for the side effects.
    "Your sex drive can take a nosedive," Brass said, adding that prostate cancer can also lead to erectile dysfunction. "You’re experiencing ED, but that doesn’t mean you’re not experiencing sexual attraction," he said.
    About 20 percent of patients treated with radiation experience irradiated bowels, which can make receptive anal sex painful or even impossible. Treatment can also affect penis size, ability to ejaculate, experience of orgasm and urinary continence during sex. Brass’ said his sexual function was relatively good, but instead he struggled with incontinence for weeks — using as many as nine “pads” a day and staying within yards of a bathroom at all times.
  • A professor at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, Rosser has received a $3 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to put together the first comprehensive rehabilitation program specifically for gay and bisexual men with prostate cancer. But he’s not just a researcher — he’s a survivor himself, diagnosed last year at age 59. And he’s keenly aware of how little information is available for men like him.
    “When my husband was diagnosed and had a radical prostatectomy, we reached out for help," Rosser said. "We were amazed to see how little was out there. I realized there were no studies, no research. It was a neglected area.”
    But it wasn’t institutionalized homophobia, Rosser stressed. “Our efforts were focused on battling HIV, keeping young men alive. Frankly the older guys were secondary.”
    When it comes to cancer, urologists and oncologists — even wives — are laser-focused on survival, according to Rosser. But he said when it comes to male patients, "studies show again and again that quality of life is equally important." And, he added, "a big part of quality of life is urinary continence and sexual function.”
  • In the United States, prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed non–skin cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death. The American Cancer Society estimates that 241 740 American men will be diagnosed with the disease and 28 170 men will die of it in 2012. Prostate cancer demographics have changed dramatically over the past 30 years.


  • Lung cancer, which was rare before 1900 with fewer than 400 cases described in the medical literature, is considered a disease of modern man. By the mid-twentieth century, lung cancer had become epidemic and firmly established as the leading cause of cancer-related death in North America and Europe, killing over three times as many men as prostate cancer and nearly twice as many women as breast cancer. Tobacco consumption is the primary cause of lung cancer, a reality firmly established in the mid-twentieth century and codified with the release of the U.S. Surgeon General’s 1964 report on the health effects of tobacco smoking.
    • Leora Horn and Christine M. Lovly, "Chapter 74 : Neoplasms of the Lung" In Jameson JL, Fauci AS, Kasper DL, Hauser SL, Longo DL, Loscalzo J. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine (20th ed.) (2018)

See also

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