5 Fast Facts During Prostate Cancer Awareness Month
September is Prostate Cancer Awareness month. And as one of the most prevalent cancers in America, it’s important to understand the signs and symptoms of prostate cancer. While a serious disease, if caught early, prostate cancer is also a treatable disease. Knowing what to look out for when it comes to prostate cancer can greatly reduce someone’s chances of moving into severe stages of cancer. Here are five fast facts to help you better understand prostate cancer.
5 Facts About Prostate Cancer
- Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men. Prostate cancer is a cancer of the prostate. The prostate is a small gland in men responsible for producing seminal fluid that nourishes sperm. According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men in the United States and the fourth most common tumor diagnosed worldwide. Nearly 1 in 9 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, 60 percent of which are in men aged 65 and older. In addition to being the most common cancer, it’s also the second leading cause of death in American men behind lung cancer.
- If caught early, nearly 90% of prostate cancer is treatable. Even though it’s a serious disease, prostate cancer is treatable and most men diagnosed with prostate cancer don’t die from it. Prostate cancer becomes most serious when it spreads. If it’s caught early while it’s still confined to the prostate, the cancer is much easier to treat. According to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, almost all prostate cancer is adenocarcinomas, which is a common and treatable tumor responsible for a great number of cancers. Routine screenings are vital in detecting and treating prostate cancer before it spreads.
- The most significant factors contributing to prostate cancer are race and family history. African-American men have the highest risk of contracting prostate cancer, while Asian-American men are least at risk. In addition to race, family medical history plays a significant role in increasing someone’s risk for prostate cancer. Men with an immediate family member who has been diagnosed with prostate cancer make them twice as likely to develop prostate cancer. Other factors that can increase the chance of prostate cancer include obesity and age.
- Symptoms may be subtle, especially in the early stages. There are often no symptoms of prostate cancer in the early stages, making it difficult to detect. If you’re experiencing difficult or frequent urination, blood in the urine or erectile dysfunction, talk to your doctor about preforming a prostate exam as these may be signs of early-stage cancer. You should also discuss prostate screenings and preventative medications with your doctor, especially if you have a family history of the disease.
- Men who are treated for prostate cancer can experience complications. If left untreated, prostate cancer can spread quickly to nearby organs. The most common organ affected by the spread of prostate cancer is the bladder. Prostate cancer can also spread to the bloodstream, bones, or lymphatic system and cause brittle bones and pain. Even if prostate cancer is caught early and treated, men may experience additional complications including urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction.
Screening Test for Prostate Cancer
There’s some controversy around screening for prostate cancer. Since symptoms of prostate cancer can go unnoticed, screening tests can’t determine if a man has cancer, but instead looks for possible signs of prostate cancer. Preliminary screens measure a man’s prostate-specific antigen (PSA). PSA is a protein created by prostate gland cells. In general, higher levels of PSA may relate to an increased risk of prostate cancer. If PSA levels are high, doctors may suggest further testing.
The reason measuring PSA isn’t a reliable form of screening is because there are many factors that can lead to high levels of PSA. For example, as men age, their PSA typically rises even without abnormalities of the prostate. Additional factors that could result in high PSA include bicycle riding, ejaculation, an enlarged prostate (not cancer-related) or a possible infection of the prostate. If your doctor does decide PSA levels are abnormal, they’ll often suggest secondary testing to determine if a prostate biopsy is needed. Another type of screening includes a digital rectum exam in which doctors are able to check for growths or tumors on the prostate.
If you or an again loved one develops prostate cancer and need assistance around the home, the trained caregivers at Visiting Angels Mobile are here to help. Our caregivers can provide assistance with everything from medication reminders to meal preparation and light housekeeping. If you reside in Mobile or the surrounding Alabama communities (including Pierce Creek, Owens and the West Bank of the Mobile River) and you’d like to learn more about bringing a caregiver into your home, please contact our Mobile office at 251-345-4100.