Prostate Cancer, know the risks, know the facts, know your options.

Prostate Cancer Awareness Month is a national campaign dedicated to increasing attention to prostate cancer issues.  One man in six will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. More than 2.5 million men in the United States who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point are still alive today.(1)

Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in American men, behind only lung cancer. One man in 36 will die of prostate cancer. 

What are the risk factors for Prostate Cancer?

Age

Age is the strongest risk factor for prostate cancer. Almost 6 out of 10 prostate cancers are found in men over the age of 65.(2)

Race/Ethnicity

Prostate cancer occurs more often in African-American men than in men of other races. African-American men are also more likely to be diagnosed at an advanced stage, and are more than twice as likely to die of prostate cancer as white men. Prostate cancer occurs less often in Asian-American and Hispanic/Latino men than in non-Hispanic whites.(2)

Family history

Prostate cancer seems to run in some families, which suggests that in some cases there may be an inherited or genetic factor. Having a father or brother with prostate cancer more than doubles a man's risk of developing this disease. (The risk is higher for men with an affected brother than for those with an affected father.) The risk is much higher for men with several affected relatives, particularly if their relatives were young at the time the cancer was found.(2)

Symptoms of Prostate Cancer

Early prostate cancer usually causes no symptoms and is most often found by a PSA test and/or DRE. Some advanced prostate cancers can slow or weaken your urinary stream or make you need to urinate more often. But non-cancerous diseases of the prostate, such as BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia) cause these symptoms more often.(3)

If the prostate cancer is advanced, you might have blood in your urine (hematuria) or trouble getting an erection (impotence). Advanced prostate cancer commonly spreads to the bones, which can cause pain in the hips, spine, ribs, or other areas. Cancer that has spread to the spine can also press on the spinal nerves, which can result in weakness or numbness in the legs or feet, or even loss of bladder or bowel control.(3)

Other diseases can also cause many of these same symptoms. It is important to tell your doctor if you have any of these problems so that the cause can be found and treated.(3)

If certain symptoms or the results of early detection tests -- the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test and/or digital rectal exam (DRE) -- suggest that you might have prostate cancer, your doctor will do a prostate biopsy to find out if the disease is present.

Diagnosis and Treatment Options

Screening refers to testing to find a disease such as cancer in people who do not have symptoms of that disease. For some types of cancer, screening can help find cancers in an early stage when they are more easily cured.

Prostate cancer can often be found early by testing the amount of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in the blood. Another way to find prostate cancer is the digital rectal exam (DRE), in which your doctor puts a gloved finger into the rectum to feel the prostate gland. If the results of either one of these tests are abnormal, further testing is needed to see if there is a cancer.(4)

If prostate cancer is found during screening with the PSA test or DRE, your cancer will likely be at an early, more treatable stage than if no screening were done.(4)

The American Cancer Society recommends that men have a chance to make an informed decision with their health care provider about whether to be screened for prostate cancer. They should first get information about what is known and what is not known about the risks and possible benefits of prostate cancer screening. Men should not be screened unless they have received this information.(5)

  • The talk about screening should take place at age 50 for men who are at average risk of prostate cancer and are expected to live at least 10 more years.(5)
  • This talk should take place starting at age 45 for men at high risk of getting prostate cancer. This includes African American men and men who have a father, brother, or son found to have prostate cancer at an early age (younger than age 65).(5)
  • This talk should take place at age 40 for men at even higher risk (those with several family members-- father, brother, son) who had prostate cancer at an early age).(5)

Even after a decision about testing has been made, men and their doctors should keep on talking about the pros and cons of testing as new information about the benefits and risks of testing becomes known. The patient's health, values, and choices can change as well.(5)

Several different treatments and combinations of treatments may be used, including:

To learn more about radiation therapy for prostate cancer visit the Radiation Oncology of Central NY web site at www.radiationoncologyservicespc.com

1. What are the key statistics about prostate cancer? American Cancer Society. (2010.) Retrieved August 5, 2010, from  http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/ProstateCancer/DetailedGuide/prostate-cancer-key-statistics

2. What are the risk factors for prostate cancer? American Cancer Society. (2010.) Retrieved August 5, 2010. from http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/ProstateCancer/DetailedGuide/prostate-cancer-risk-factors

3. What are the signs and symptoms of prostate cancer? American Cancer Society. (2010.) Retrieved August 5, 2010, from http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/ProstateCancer/MoreInformation/ProstateCancerEarlyDetection/prostate-cancer-early-detection-symptoms-of-prostate-cancer

4. Can prostate cancer be found early? American Cancer Society. (2013.) Retrieved September 17, 2013, from http://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostatecancer/detailedguide/prostate-cancer-detection

5. American Caner Society recommendations for Prostate Cancer Early Detection. American Cancer Society. (2013.) Retrieved September 17, 2013, from http://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostatecancer/moreinformation/prostatecancerearlydetection/prostate-cancer-early-detection-acs-recommendations

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