Prostate Cancer Awareness for 2019
This post is for Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. We offer answers to a few questions and additional resources. The first is this video from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about whether you should get tested for prostate cancer.
Men (and those who care for men – meaning everyone) should be knowledgeable about prostate cancer. I don’t mean physician-level knowledgeable, but there are just a few facts that you should know that are meaningful. We’ll cover those in this Straight, No Chaser.
Aside from skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men in the U.S. It is also one of the leading causes of cancer death among men of all races. According to the National Cancer Institute, in 2018, there will be over 164,6900 new cases and well over 29, 430 deaths (13% increase from 2017) from prostate cancer. Approximately 11.2% of men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point during their lifetime. Here are some prostate cancer basics.
Who’s at risk for prostate cancer?
- Age: This is simple. The older you are, the greater your risk of developing prostate cancer.
- Race: Prostate cancer is more common in certain racial and ethnic groups.
- Genetics: This risk is twice to three times more likely if you have a father, brother or son who has had prostate cancer. This is not the same as saying you’ll develop prostate cancer if a family member did.
What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?
It is of interest that a wide variety of presentations exists in those later diagnosed with prostate cancer. Some men don’t have symptoms. In these cases, prostate cancer is discovered on screening examinations. Other men present with several symptoms, often including the following.
- Blood in the urine or semen
- Difficulty completely emptying the bladder
- Difficulty starting urination
- Frequent urination (especially at night)
- Pain in the back, hips, or pelvis that doesn’t go away
- Pain or burning during urination
- Painful ejaculation
- Weak or interrupted flow of urine
What Is Prostate Cancer Screening?
Cancer screening means looking for cancer before it causes symptoms. The goal of screening for prostate cancer is to find cancer early that may spread if not treated.
There is no standard test to screen for prostate cancer. Here are two tests that are commonly used to screen for prostate cancer.
- A blood test called a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test. PSA is a substance your prostate makes. This test measures the level of PSA in your blood. Your PSA level may be high if you have prostate cancer and for many other reasons, such as having an enlarged prostate, a prostate infection, or taking certain medicines.
- Digital rectal examination, when a health care provider inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into a man’s rectum to feel the prostate for anything abnormal, such as cancer.
How Is Prostate Cancer Treated?
See the above chart for more detailed information. Optimally, treatment for prostate cancer should take into account
- Your age and expected life span with and without treatment
- Other health conditions you have
- The severity (i.e. stage and grade) of your cancer
- Your feelings (and your physician’s medical opinion) about the need to treat the cancer
- The likelihood that treatment will cure your cancer or provide some other measure of benefit
- Possible side effects from treatment
Different types of established treatments are available for prostate cancer, including the following:
- Closely monitoring the prostate cancer by performing prostate specific antigen (PSA) and digital rectal exam (DRE) tests regularly, and treating the cancer only if it grows or causes symptoms. This is called active surveillance.
- Surgery to remove the prostate and or surrounding tissue. This surgery is called a prostatectomy.
- Radiation therapy with high-energy rays to kill the cancer..
- Hormone therapy perhaps could be named “hormone blocking therapy.” These medicines blocks cancer cells from getting the hormones they need to grow.
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