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Prostate Cancer- What Every Man Needs to Know

Prostate Cancer- What Every Man Needs to Know

Prostate cancer can be a sensitive subject to discuss and comes with a certain level of stigma, despite the fact that it’s the second most common – and deadly – type of cancer among men, behind lung cancer. It is estimated that 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime, but it can be detected, treated and monitored with great success, giving men a greater chance of survival than years before.

Here are some important facts about prostate cancer you may not have known:

Prostate Cancer Can Be Inherited. Family history and genetics do play a role in a man’s chance of developing prostate cancer. A man whose brother or father had prostate cancer has a 50 percent greater risk of development the same cancer. The risk is further increased if the cancer was diagnosed in a family member less than 55 years old or has affected three or more members of a family.

Most Men Survive Prostate Cancer. Although prostate cancer is the second leading cause of death in American men, it has one of the highest survival rates. There are several different treatment options that can be used together or alone to create the most effective treatment plan. The high chances of survival are attributed to early detection and regular screening.

It’s More Common Among African-American Men. African-American and Caribbean men of African descent are more likely to develop prostate cancer than those of other races and ethnicities. African- American men are more likely to develop this form of cancer at a younger age and to experience more severe forms of the disease due to diagnosis later in life, increasing their risk of death by 50%.

Young Men Can Develop Prostate Cancer. While the average age of a prostate cancer diagnosis is around 66 years old, younger men can also develop this form of cancer. In fact, prostate cancer in men below the age of 50 is often the most aggressive and more difficult to treat. Men in their 40s should pay close attention to any changes in their health. Frequent urination, pain or burning during urination, blood in your urine and weak urine flow should be reported to your doctor as soon as possible.

Early Prostate Cancer Typically Has No Symptoms. Early forms of prostate cancer often go undiagnosed due to the lack of symptoms, so it is most often diagnosed during routine exams. The most common symptoms, found most often in the later stages of the disease, can include:

  • Frequent or painful urination
  • A weak or interrupted flow of urination
  • Blood in the urine and/or semen
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Pain in the lower back, hips or upper thighs
  • Numbness or weakness in the feet or legs

These symptoms can also be found in other health conditions including prostatitis or benign prostatic hyperpallia (BPH) which causes a non-cancerous growth of the prostate gland.

Treatment May Not Be the Initial Course of Action. It is common to assume a cancer diagnosis would always require immediate treatment, however prostate tumors grow quite slowly and are often closely monitored before any course of treatment is determined. Once treatment is required, it typically means hormone and radiation therapy or surgery, with radiation therapy being the most common form of treatment.

A Blood Test is the Most Common Screening Tool. A simple blood test- prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test is often the first step in any prostate cancer diagnosis. It is used to determine the presence of normal and abnormal proteins made by cells in the prostate gland. The amount of PSA present in the bloodstream can fluctuate with levels being the highest with cancer. An elevated PSA level is a warning sign that requires attention, however advanced age, urinary tract infection, riding a bike and certain supplements can result in a high PSA score.

The American Cancer Society suggests that all men begin prostate cancer screenings by age 50 following these guidelines:

  • Age 50 for those with an average risk of prostate cancer
  • Age 45 for those with a high risk of prostate cancer. High risk is defined as being African American or if you have an immediate family member that has been diagnosed with prostate cancer under and is under 65 years of age.
  • Age 40 for those men with a very high risk of prostate cancer due to multiple immediate relatives diagnosed with prostate cancer before the age of 65.

Going to the doctor can be scary, and many men put off regular checkups, especially a prostate check. While treatment for prostate cancer has advanced and the recovery and survival rate is high, it is important to know the warning signs and risk factors and continue regular check-ups.