Prostate Cancer Awareness Month
by Maria Scott, MCHS Community Health Nurse Navigator
September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. Please take a moment to learn a bit more about prostate cancer as well as the risks, screenings and treatments associated with it.
What is prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the United States, after skin cancer. It is the second leading cause of death from cancer in men. Prostate cancer occurs more often in African-American men than in white men. African-American men with prostate cancer are more likely to die from the disease than white men with prostate cancer.
What is the prostate?
The prostate is a gland found only in males. It makes some of the fluid that is part of semen.
The location of the prostate is below the bladder and in front of the rectum. Because the size of the prostate changes with age, the walnut size found in younger men can be much larger in older men.
What are the most common prostate problems?
Prostatitis is swelling and inflammation of the prostate gland, often causes painful or difficult urination. Although Prostatitis is more common in men over 50 years of age, it can affect men of all ages.
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia, or BPH, is when the prostate is enlarged but not cancerous. It is very common in older men.
Prostate Cancer begins when cells in the prostate gland start to grow uncontrollably.
What are the risk factors?
Age – Prostate cancer is rare in men under the age of 40. The chance of a man having prostate cancer rises rapidly for men over the age of 50. About six of every ten prostate cancer cases are found in men older than 65.
Race/Ethnicity – Prostate cancer occurs more often in African-American men and in Caribbean men of African ancestry than in men of other races. African-American men are also 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.
Family History – The fact that Prostate Cancer seems to run in some families suggests that there may be an inherited or genetic factor in some cases. However, most prostate cancers occur in men without a family history of it.
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 who have a brother with the disease than for those who have a father with it.) The risk is much higher for men with several affected relatives, particularly if their relatives were young when the cancer was found.
Can prostate cancer be prevented?
There is no sure way to prevent prostate cancer due to the fact that many risk factors such as age, race, and family history cannot controlled. Additionally, according with the American Cancer Society the effects of body weight, physical activity and diet on prostate cancer risk are not clear. However, in order to lower your risk of prostate cancer, the following things should be considered that might lower your risk:
- Eating at least 2½ cups of a wide variety of vegetables and fruits each day.
- Being physically active
- Staying at a healthy weight
What tests can detect prostate cancer early?
Screening is testing to find cancer in people before they have symptoms. For some types of cancer, screening can help find cancers at an early stage, when they are likely to be easier to treat.
Prostate cancer can often be found before symptoms arise by testing the amount of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in a man’s blood. Another way to find prostate cancer is the digital rectal exam (DRE), in which the doctor puts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to feel the prostate gland.
At this time, the American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends that men thinking about getting screened for prostate cancer should make informed decisions based on available information, discussion with their doctor, and their own views on the possible benefits, risks and limits of prostate cancer screening.
The MCH 123 on Prostate Cancer
- One in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer.
- Get a PSA test beginning at age 50.
- Early detention is the key!
Sources: America Cancer Society and National Cancer Institute