South Texas Veterans Health Care System (STVHCS)
Mens Health: Prostate Cancer
Every September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. Making everyone aware of the most common cancer in American men after skin cancer will hopefully help us find effective treatments and hopefully a cure. According to the latest American Cancer Society estimates for prostate cancer in the United States for 2012, about 241,740 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed and about 28,170 men will die of this cancer. Second only to lung cancer, prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in American men.
A diagnosis of prostate cancer is rare in men younger than 40. Occuring mainly in older men, nearly 2/3 of the diagnosis are in men aged 65 or older. The average age at the time of diagnosis is about 67.
So, are there risk factors? Of course, but as in any medical case, there are other precipitating factors. Like breast cancer in women, the biggest risk factor is age. The older you are, the greater your risk of developing prostate cancer. And, as in breast cancer, a family history of the disease increases your risk of developing it.
There are actions you can take to better your odds of not developing prostate cancer. The biggest two are diet and exercise. A low fat diet is thought to help lower your odds of developing prostate cancer. The healthier you are, the better.
Unfortunately prostate cancer has no symptoms or warning signs in its early stages. Once a malignant tumor causes the prostate gland to swell significantly, or once cancer spreads beyond the prostate, the following symptoms may be present:
- A frequent need to urinate, especially at night
- Difficulty starting or stopping a stream of urine
- A weak or interrupted urinary stream
- Leaking of urine when laughing or coughing
- Inability to urinate standing up
- A painful or burning sensation during urination or ejaculation
- Blood in urine or semen
Prostate cancer can be a serious disease, but most men diagnosed with prostate cancer do not die from it. In fact, more than 2.5 million men in the United States who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point are still alive today.
So, get screened annually beginning at age 50. If you have a family history, the recommended annual screening age is 40.