When it comes to prostate cancer and men, the statistics are sobering.
According to the American Cancer Society:
- Other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men.
- More than 240,00 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in 2012.
- More than 28,000 men will die of prostate cancer in 2012.
- One in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime.
As we observe Prostate Cancer Awareness Month this September, why not take the time to learn the facts about this disease, risk factors and current treatments available?
It’s a Guy Thing
Fact – only men can get prostate cancer.
Simply put, ladies don’t have a prostate gland!
It’s an Age Thing
It is imperative to note that the majority of all prostate cancer – more than 70 percent – occurs in men age 65 and older. In fact, prostate cancer is almost completely nonexistent in men under the age of 40.
It’s a Sneaky Thing
When you have cold, you sneeze.
When you have a sinus infection, it is hard to swallow.
But, unfortunately, there are no easy-to-detect signs of early prostate cancer. It isn’t until the more advanced and difficult-to-treat stages that one might notice trouble urinating, blood in the urine and bone/pelvic pain.
It’s a Testing Thing
Because symptoms of the disease may not be present until later stages, proactive prostate screening is imperative. The best method is two complimentary tests. First is the digital rectal examination, which should be done once a year during a regular annual physical after age 50.
Sure, it is uncomfortable, but it is critical in helping us detect prostate cancer as well as a litany of other issues, including growths, pelvic pain, bleeding and even colorectal cancer.
There is also a second critical screening involving the blood, which tests the prostate-specific antigen (PSA), that doctors should use to compliment the rectal exam as well.
It’s a Curable Thing
Taking the proper prevention methods to assist in prostate health, participating in routine testing and getting the proper treatment are all part of prostate protection. If the right measures are taken, experts would agree that prostate cancer is preventable, if not curable, for most men.
Just some of the treatments available today include:
- Active surveillance – essentially watchful waiting, this option may be best for those in very early stages or with very slow growing cancer
- Prostatectomy – surgical removal of the entire prostate gland and some surrounding tissue
- Radiation Therapy – directed radioactive exposure that kills the cancerous cells and surrounding tissues
- Hormone Therapy – also known as androgen-deprivation therapy or ADT, prostate cancer cell growth relies the hormone testosterone as the main fuel; ADT removes that fuel
- Chemotherapy – the use of chemicals that kill or halt the growth of cancer cells
As science progresses, studies have demonstrated that radiation treatment — delivered externally and internally — is as effective in treating the disease as surgical removal of the prostate. But, side effects can include bladder and bowel issues.
As a result, nearly 100 medical centers throughout the country have adopted a new system, called Calypso, which enables physicians to determine the exact location of the prostate in real time during radiation therapy. Armed with this information, radiation to the surrounding healthy tissue can be avoided and side effects can be minimized.