The prostate gland is the major site of medical problems in the U.S. male. Surgery for benign prostatic hyperplasia is the most common surgical procedure performed in males, and the total cost for this surgery exceeds 1 billion dollars per year. The incidence of and mortality from prostate cancer are increasing yearly. Prostate cancer now exceeds lung cancer as the most commonly diagnosed cancer in males and is the second leading cause of male cancer deaths. Of all tumors, the prevalence of prostate cancer increases the most rapidly with age. A shift in age distribution favoring an older population will lead to an increase in the number of patients diagnosed with prostate cancer in the United States. It is estimated that by the year 2000 there will be a 37% increase in prostate cancer deaths per year and a 90% increase in prostate cancer cases per year. Although the factors responsible for the development and progression of prostate cancer to a clinically manifest form are not known, there is evidence that environmental factors may play a role. It will be important for the future to focus on the etiological factors that may lead to a decrease in the prevalence of prostatic tumors.
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