National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month: What you need to know

National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month: What you need to know

Prostate cancer is the second-most common cancer among men, but it can often be treated successfully. According to the American Cancer Society, more than two million men in America today are prostate cancer survivors.

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, and Goshen Health encourages all men to be armed with the facts, know the risks and signs of prostate cancer and when to get screened.

What is prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer occurs when cells in the prostate gland begin to grow uncontrollably. Nearly all cases of prostate cancer are adenocarcinomas, meaning they develop from the gland cells. There are other types of prostate cancers, although rare. These types include sarcomas, small cell carcinomas, neuroendocrine tumors and transitional cell carcinomas. Prostate cancers are almost always slow-growing, although few do grow and spread quickly.

What are the risk factors for prostate cancer?
Having one or more risk factors for prostate cancer may increase your chances of developing the cancer; however, having one or more risk factors is not a guarantee that you will have cancer. Here are some of the risk factors researchers have found that might increase a man’s risk of prostate cancer:

  • Age: The chances of getting prostate cancer rise after age 50 (although in rare cases, younger men can have prostate cancer). About 60 percent of prostate cancer cases occur in men older than 65. 
  • Race/ethnicity: African-American men and Caribbean men of African descent are more likely to get prostate cancer than men of other races.
  • Geography: Prostate cancer is most common in North America, northwestern Europe, Australia and on Caribbean islands. 
  • Family history: Prostate cancer sometimes runs in families, suggesting there may be a genetic factor involved. Having a brother or father with prostate cancer more than doubles a man’s risk of developing the cancer.
  • Gene changes: Inherited gene changes may increase cancer risk for some men. These include mutations of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes (which also raise the risk of breast and ovarian cancer for some women). Men with Lynch syndrome caused by gene changes have an increased risk for a number of cancers.

Other factors that may be linked to prostate cancer (though their effect is less clear) include:

  • Diet
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Chemical exposures
  • Inflammation of the prostate
  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Vasectomy

What are the signs and symptoms of prostate cancer?
In the early stages, prostate cancer is usually asymptomatic (without symptoms). Advanced cancers can cause symptoms including:

  • Difficulty urinating, slow or weak urinary stream or frequent urination
  • Blood in the urine stream
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Hip, back or rib pain, or pain in other areas from cancer that has spread to the bones
  • Weakness or numbness in legs or feet
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control from cancer pressing on the spine

In many cases, these symptoms are caused by something other than prostate cancer. However, if you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to tell your doctor in order to find the cause and get treatment if needed.

How is prostate cancer diagnosed?
Prostate cancer is often detected through a screening blood test called the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, or through a rectal exam. A transrectal ultrasound may also be used to get a black and white image of the prostate and/or to measure the size of the prostate gland. If cancer is suspected based on the results of screening tests or symptoms the patient is having, a biopsy will be needed to confirm the diagnosis.

When should I get screened for prostate cancer?
Men should make an informed decision with their primary care provider about when to get screened for prostate cancer. A discussion about screening for prostate cancer should take place with your doctor depending on your own risk factors. Here are some general guidelines from the American Cancer Society:

  • Age 40 for men who have more than one first-degree relative who had prostate cancer at an early age.
  • Age 45 for men at high risk of developing cancer (African-American men and men who have a first-degree relative diagnosed with prostate cancer before age 65).
  • Age 50 for men who are at average risk of cancer and are expected to live at least 10 more years.

Talk to your doctor about your individual risks for cancer and make a decision on screening tests accordingly. Goshen Center for Cancer Care has created a comprehensive prostate cancer treatment program. If you have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, call 888.492.4673 today to speak with our oncology information specialists.


Posted: 9/21/2016 by Goshen Health
Filed under: Cancer Care, healthy adults, healthy lifestyle

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