Thursday, September 19, 2013

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

Prostate cancer is a prevalent disease in men. In fact, studies indicate that most men who are 70 or older have experienced or will experience some form of prostate cancer. Aside from skin cancer, it is the most common cancer that men face.

Symptoms of prostate cancer include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Trouble starting or stopping urination
  • Weak/interrupted urinary stream
  • Pain or burning during urination or ejaculation
  • Blood in urine or semen

Although symptoms may be caused by a benign prostate enlargement, men should still see their doctor to rule out prostate cancer any time these signs are present. Fortunately, prostate cancer is often slow-growing and is typically caught early. When caught early, the prognosis is usually very good. Treatment options range from watchful waiting (in cases of low-risk cancers) to surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and/or use of a “prostate cancer vaccine” that spurs the body's immune system to attack prostate cancer cells.

The American Cancer Society gives the following guidelines regarding when men should consider talking with a doctor about the pros and cons of screenings, such as prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test and digital rectal exams (DRE): 

  • Average risk: 50 years old 
  • High risk (African Americans and men with a father, brother or son diagnosed before age 65): 45 years old
  • Men with more than one first-degree relative diagnosed at an early age: 40 years old

While certain factors, like age and race, are outside of a person’s realm of control, other risks can be managed. The main controllable risk factor is diet. Men concerned about prostate cancer may be able to reduce their risk by limiting consumption of red meat and high-fat dairy products, as well as incorporating more fruits and vegetables into their diet.

GBMC offers low-cost prostate cancer screenings to members of the community. Learn more by visiting our Calendar of Events.

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