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That's what those running-to-the-men's-room commercials for Flomax are all about.

But some of the very same symptoms can also be caused by a prostate-cancer tumor.

It swells in size, and the swelling clamps your urethra in a vise grip.

In fact, 94 percent of all diagnoses these days peg the malignancy at stage I or stage II, before it metastasizes beyond the prostate.

They all underwent a prostate biopsy — and cancer was found in 449 of them, or 15.2 percent.

On the other hand, you can have a PSA reading above 4, and it could be caused by two common maladies: prostatitis, which is an inflammation usually caused by an infection, and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), which is the fancy name for the benign swelling that plagues aging glands. In fact, the majority of high PSA readings are due to these noncancerous causes.

These days, the PSA test is so routine for middle-aged men that your doctor might order one for you without even asking.

My internist did that for me in the summer of 2007, as part of a regular physical. The results showed mildly troubling cholesterol — but a very troubling PSA number.

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