Your Prostate Playbook – Understanding Prostate Cancer

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. For American men, prostate cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer, behind only lung cancer, and affects one in seven men. Fortunately, new research and improved treatment plans are yielding better outcomes and enabling patients to continue enjoying active, productive lives.

Know your Risk

No one knows exactly what causes prostate cancer, but research indicates several common factors that may increase a man’s risk of developing the disease:

  • Age. Odds of developing prostate cancer significantly increase if you are over 50.
  • Family History. Having a father or brother with the disease more than doubles your risk.
  • Race. You’re more likely to develop cancer if you’re African-American.
  • Diet. A diet high in red meat and high-fat dairy may increase your risk. 

Start the discussion

Early detection is key in successfully treating many cancers. Beginning at age 50, men at average risk for developing prostate cancer should begin to discuss screening with their doctor. Men at high risk for developing prostate cancer should begin discussing screening even sooner, around 45.

Typical prostate screenings include a rectal exam and a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test. If a suspicious lump or area is found during the rectal exam, or if a PSA test reveals higher-than–normal results, a biopsy of the prostate may be performed to confirm if cancer is present.

Spot the Signs

In its earliest stages, prostate cancer usually has no symptoms. Any symptoms that do appear should be reported to your doctor right away.

Symptoms that may occur include:

  • Blood in urine or semen
  • Frequent pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, ribs or upper thighs
  • Trouble having or keeping an erection
  • Weakness or numbness in the legs 

Explore your Options

Every case of prostate cancer is different and treatment options can vary. Several factors play a role in determining the most appropriate treatment – age and health, stage of the disease, and benefits and side effects of each treatment. In most cases, prostate cancer grows slowly. So men diagnosed with the disease usually have time to consider all available treatment options, gather additional opinions and, with the help of their doctor, decide on which option is best for them.

Read more about prostate cancer and available screening and treatment options at Northside.

 

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