What is Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among males, second only to skin cancer, and affects more than 3 million men in the United States, according to the National Cancer Institute. During Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, Sunflower Home Health encourages men of all ages – especially those with a family history – to learn more about the disease.
This is a disease that can impact all men. It’s important for men to know how and when to be screened, and what their treatment options are if diagnosed, so that they can be equipped to make decisions that are best for their health. The National Institutes of Health estimates that nearly 165,000 men in the U.S. will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2019. Although the disease is the second leading cause of cancer death among men in the U.S., it’s a very slow-growing disease, NIH says. Nearly all of those who get prostate cancer – more than 98 percent – are alive five years after diagnosis.
Symptoms can include weak or interrupted flow of urine, sudden urge to urinate, frequent urination, pain or burning while urinating, trouble starting the flow of urine, and trouble emptying the bladder completely. Pain in the back, hips, or pelvis, as well as blood in the urine or semen, can also be indicators.
Who is at risk?
Prostate cancer is common in older men but can still affect younger men, particularly if they have a male relative with a history of the disease. Age is the most common risk factor, but other important risk factors include race, genetic factors, and family history. Men who have a relative with prostate cancer are twice as likely to develop the disease as those with no family history. If you have a positive family history, that puts you at a potentially higher risk for having prostate cancer, and you should bring that potential risk up with your primary care doctor.
Patients can be screened with a prostate-specific antigen blood test, also known as a PSA test. The test measures the level of PSA in the blood; an increased amount may indicate prostate cancer. But increased PSA levels alone do not diagnose the disease, which is confirmed through a biopsy.
The American Urology Association encourages men age 55 to 69 to undergo a PSA test every year. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force considers the decision to undergo periodic PSA screening to be an individual choice for men of that age group, stating that they should have the opportunity to discuss its potential benefits and drawbacks with a clinician.
The majority of prostate cancer is treatable. Since the disease advances slowly, not all cases require treatment, which can alter quality of life. Patients with low-risk prostate cancer can discuss alternative options with their physician, such as monitoring the cancer – known as active surveillance. Treatment options can include radiation therapy, surgery, chemotherapy, and hormone therapy, among others. All treatment regimens must be balanced against quality-of-life concerns, considering the potential side effects of each treatment, the aggressiveness of the cancer, and the overall life expectancy of the patient.
- 1 in every 7 men will get prostate cancer sometime in his life. According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in men, other than skin cancer.
- The chances of getting prostate cancer are 1 in 3 if you have just one close relative (father, brother) with the disease. The risk is 83% with two close relatives; with three, it’s extremely high at 97%.
- African-American men are at increased risk for the disease, with the highest rate of prostate cancer in the world: 1 in 4 men.
- Prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of male cancer-related death in the United States. There are more than 2.8 million men in the U.S. who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
- There are no noticeable symptoms of prostate cancer while it is still in the early stages. This is why getting tested and being screened is so critical.
Put Men’s Prostate Health First
While September is certainly a great time to think about prostate health, men should be aware of this disease and how to prevent and/or treat it most effectively all year.
- Get screened. There are numerous free prostate screening events across the state. Find a screening event near you.
- Get educated. Whether you, a family member, loved one, or friend has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, it’s important to educate yourself on resources and advanced therapies available to treat the disease.
- Find a clinical trial. Men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer should discuss the option of clinical trials with their urologist.
- Get treated. Treatment for advanced prostate cancer grows more targeted each year. Talk about treatment options with your doctor.
- Find support. There is a wealth of community and family support services for men and their loved ones. Sunflower Home Health is always here to assist in finding support groups if you need any assistance.
Sunflower Home Health is here to help if you have any questions about prostate cancer. Please don’t hesitate to navigate to the contact us form on our website and reach out or give us a call at your local office. Those numbers are listed below:
- Charleston – (662) 647-0653
- Clarksdale – (662) 624-4141
- Cleveland – (662)756-4676
- Greenwood – (662) 455-3535
- Grenada – (662) 294-0726
- Indianola – (662) 887-1518
At Sunflower Home Health, we truly believe that education and awareness are the keys to making the Mississippi Delta a healthy and safe place to live, something that we are committed to making a reality.