As the month of September brings prostate cancer into focus, it’s time to increase public understanding of the disease. 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime, making it the most common cancer in men. The need for greater public education is why we have designated September Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, a month dedicated toward engaging and connecting the public, media, academia, and government around a disease that affects us all on some level. Prostate Cancer Awareness Month is geared towards spreading the word in as accurate, diverse, and widespread a manner possible.
Prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in men and is a leading cause of cancer death in men, second only to lung cancer. Prostate cancer is the most prevalent form of cancer among American males. Approximately 230,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year, and about 30,000 will die from this disease. Any man may be at risk for prostate cancer, but increased risk factors are known to include race, family history, elevated prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels, positive findings on a digital rectal examination, exposure to Agent Orange and related chemicals, and selected pathological findings on prior biopsies.
Prostate cancer is an extremely complex disease—multiple subtypes of this cancer exist, some aggressive and lethal, others non-aggressive and non-life-threatening. The vast majority of prostate cancer occurs as an indolent, slow-growing form of the disease that poses little threat to men’s lifespans. Because one in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime, it is important for men to learn about both non-aggressive, slow-growing forms of prostate cancer and aggressive forms of this disease through conversations with their doctors.
The prostate gland is about the size of a walnut when a man is in his 20s. By the time he is 40, it may have grown slightly larger, to the size of an apricot. By age 60, it may be the size of a lemon. The enlarged prostate can press against the bladder and the urethra. This can slow down or block urine flow. Some men might find it hard to start a urine stream, even though they feel the need to go. Once the urine stream has started, it may be hard to stop. Other men may feel like they need to pass urine all the time, or they are awakened during sleep with the sudden need to pass urine.
Screening is when you test for a disease even if you have no symptoms. Health care providers use the prostate specific antigen (PSA) test and digital rectal examination (DRE), to screen for prostate cancer. They advise both for early detection. There is debate on how often men should have a PSA test. Abnormality in either test is usually not due to cancer, but to other common conditions.The American Urological Association (AUA) recommends talking with your health care provider about if you should be screened and when. To find out if prostate cancer screening is right for you. And, should a diagnosis occur, access to current, in-depth treatment information can help you find the best care./p>