Get the Upper Hand on Prostate Cancer
Despite the fact considerable progress has been made in the battle against prostate cancer, it remains the second leading cause of cancer death in men. And that’s particularly worrisome for African American males because the rate of prostate cancer among this group is 60 percent higher than that of Caucasian men. The mortality rate is two-and-a-half times higher.
Those statistics alone should be a wake-up call for any man of color over the age of 40 or anyone who has a family history of the disease. Studies have shown that men with a father or brother who has been diagnosed with the disease incur more than twice the risk of eventually getting prostate cancer.
September is National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, and therefore a good time to think about the consequences of this deadly disease, which not only affects men, but their families, friends and communities which rally behind them. Early detection and treatment are the key factors in addressing prostate cancer. In the space of ten minutes, someone can be checked for prostate cancer through a simple blood test (known as PSA, for prostate-specific antigen) and a brief physical examination. If the male in your family is reluctant to have this done, then you should encourage them to be proactive, knowing it could save their life.
Be aware, however, of one of the biggest myths surrounding the disease: that an enlarged prostate gland is a sure sign of cancer. The truth is, an enlarged prostate is quite common in men over 60, and can even develop earlier in life. Oftentimes it is not a sign of cancer.
The best advice I can give to my readers is not to take any chances, especially if you’re in one of the high-risk groups. If you have symptoms like weak urination, frequent urination at night, pain or burning when urinating, painful ejaculation, or blood in the urine, see your doctor. You may be referred to a urologist — a doctor who specializes in treating prostate disease. This medical professional will discuss your problem with you along with possible treatments. These may range from simply monitoring your condition (known as “watchful waiting”) to hormone therapy to surgery to remove a cancerous prostate.