Raising Awareness for Prostate Cancer Awareness Month
One in nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month – this important campaign has led to breakthrough research and the lowering of death rates. The empowerment and education for men is imperative to increase awareness of prostate cancer.
There are more than 3 million cases of prostate cancer in the U.S. per year. Affecting only males, this cancer is the second leading cause of death for men in the United States.
It’s understandable to be overwhelmed, even frightened when thinking about or discussing any type of cancer, especially prostate cancer. Becoming aware of the signs, symptoms, and reasons behind the necessity of yearly screenings, can potentially save you or your loved one’s life.
Symptoms and Who’s at Risk
Men over 50 have a greater risk of developing prostate cancer, and there may be genetic factors in play that increase the likelihood of cancer developing.
Diet seems to have a role in prevention. Eating lots of red meat, calcium, or too many fatty dairy products; may cause a slightly higher chance of getting prostate cancer.
As the prostate gland is close to the bladder and urethra, some urinary symptoms can be signs of prostate cancer. This includes loss of bladder control, burning or pain during urination, and trouble starting or stopping during urination with a decreased flow of stream.
Other potential symptoms include:
- Urge to urinate at night
- Blood in urine and/or semen
- Erectile dysfunction and/or painful ejaculation
- Legs or pelvic area swelling
- Leg/feet/hip numbness
- Bone pain and/or increased fractures
Half of men over 50 develop benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), or enlarged prostates. This condition has some of the same symptoms of prostate cancer, like frequent urination and weakened bladder. Currently, there is no link between BPH and an increased risk of developing prostate cancer.
Stages and Statistics
Prostate cancer is diagnosed in stages, which are usually determined by combining three classifications of diagnosis: Tumor (T), Node (N), and Metastasis (M). A physician will locate and measure how large the primary tumor is, examine the lymph nodes to see if the cancer has spread to the regional (pelvic) lymph nodes, and then determine if the cancer has metastasized – spread to other parts of the body.
- Stage I: The early stage of this cancer is slow growing with the cancer cells looking like healthy cells
- Stage II: Tumor has been located in the prostate with increased risk of cancer spreading
- Stage III: The tumor has grown and potentially spread to other areas such as the bladder or the rectum
- Stage IV: Cancer has metastasized and spread to distant lymph nodes
There are several types of prostate cancer, with adenocarcinomas making up the majority of cases.
Some of the different types are as follows:
- Adenocarcinoma – makes up 95-99% of cases
- Sarcomas – less than .1% of prostate cancer cases and develops in the soft tissue
- Neuroendocrine Tumors (NETs) – slow growing tumors and have symptoms such as wheezing and dizziness
- Small cell carcinoma – less than 1% of prostate cancer, often has metastasized before diagnosis
- Transitional cell carcinoma – starts in the bladder (or prostate although this is rare) and presents with blood in the urine
- Squamous cell carcinoma – extremely rare and fast-growing starting in the flat cells covering the prostate gland
Approximately 300,000 men die of prostate cancer worldwide each year, which is one of the reasons regular checkups for men are so important.
Routine prostate cancer screening is a controversial topic and should be discussed with your physician. Men need to be involved in making the decision whether or not to be screened. Here at MD Now we offer general physical exams and are happy to discuss prostate cancer screening with you including the use of prostate specific antigen (PSA) lab testing. PSA tests may be elevated for several reasons and you may need repeat PSA testing and/or referral to a urologist for further evaluation.
Avoiding smoking and living a healthy life through simple lifestyle changes can help prevent prostate cancer. Seek medical attention for conditions like stress, high blood pressure, and depression.
The best prevention method is taking care of your health. Start today by scheduling your checkup at your local MD Now with one of our physicians. We have full-time doctors on site and ready to answer any question you may have, 365 days a year from 8am.