Prostate Cancer Awareness Month is about being aware and informed

September 1, 2016

Prostate Cancer is a story of both great heartbreak and great hope. The heartbreak is that each year more than 29,000 men will die of this disease and that prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death of U.S. men. However, if diagnosed early, the five-year survival rate is almost 100 percent. At ten years post diagnosis, 98 percent of men diagnosed early, remain alive.

Prostate cancer is an extremely complex disease— multiple subtypes of this cancer exist, some aggressive and lethal, others non-aggressive and non-life-threatening. The vast majority of prostate cancer occurs as an indolent, slow-growing form of the disease that poses little threat to men’s lifespans. Learn about prostate cancer and talk to your doctor before you decide to get tested or treated.

Symptoms

Men can have different symptoms for prostate cancer. Some men do not have symptoms at all. Some symptoms of prostate cancer are difficulty starting urination, frequent urination (especially at night), weak or interrupted flow of urine, and blood in the urine or semen.

Risk Factors

There is no way to know for sure if you will get prostate cancer. Men have a greater chance of getting prostate cancer if they are 50 years old or older, are African-American, or have a father, brother, or son who has had prostate cancer. African-American men with prostate cancer are more likely to die from the disease than white men with prostate cancer.

Screening Tests

Two tests are commonly used to screen for prostate cancer— Prostate specific antigen (PSA) test: PSA is a substance made by the prostate. The PSA test measures the level of PSA in the blood, which may be higher in men who have prostate cancer. However, other conditions such as benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH, an enlarged but noncancerous prostate), prostate infections, and certain medical procedures also may increase PSA levels. Digital rectal exam (DRE): A doctor, nurse, or other health care professional places a gloved finger into the rectum to feel the size, shape, and hardness of the prostate gland.

Should You Get Screened?

Not all medical experts agree that screening for prostate cancer will save lives. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends against PSA-based screening for men who do not have symptoms. The potential benefit of prostate cancer screening is finding cancer early, which may make treatment work better. Potential risks include—

  • False negative test results (the test says you do not have cancer when you do).
  • False positive test results (the test says you have cancer when you do not).
  • Follow-up tests such as a biopsy to diagnose cancer.
  • Treatment of prostate cancers that may never affect your health.
  • Mild to serious side effects from treatment of prostate cancer. Talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of prostate cancer screening before getting tested.

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