Since September is Prostate Awareness Month, it’s a good time to focus on Prostate Cancer, which occurs in many men after age 50 or 60 years of age. Therefore, men, as well as their wives and/or partners, need to be well informed about prostate cancer, and do what they can in order to:
- decrease their risk of developing the condition, or delay its onset;
- know the signs and symptoms of possibly developing prostate cancer; and
- have the condition diagnosed early, when the chance of cure , or control, is greatest.
Prostate cancer occurs in more African American men in the U.S. than in any other racial or ethnic group, so they and their loved ones should begin focusing on early diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer than other men.
About the Prostate Gland and Prostate Cancer:
Have you ever wondered what the prostate gland and Prostate Cancer are? The prostate is a walnut-sized part of the male reproductive system that’s located in front of the rectum and just below the bladder. Prostate cancer occurs when cells in the prostate gland don’t grow normally. Instead, they divide and make more cells than the body needs, thus forming a tumor. With cancer, cells from the tumor usually either spread to one or more nearby areas, or break off and spread to further away areas of the body. This last process is called metastasis, which is a serious form of cancer.
Key Screening Tests for Early Detection:
African American men above 40 years of age should have a digital rectal examination by their doctor every year and all other men after 50 years old. In addition, prostate cancer can often be found early by testing the amount of prostate-specific antigen or PSA in the blood. However, because PSA test results can have different meanings, it’s important that the meaning be discussed with one’s doctor in making a decision about how to proceed (See discussion of prostate cancer treatment below).
Key Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer:
- Being a man over 50 years old–40 years old for African-American men
- Being African-American
- History of father or brother having had prostate cancer
- Eating too many foods high in fat and red meat
- Not eating enough fruits and vegetables
Don’t believe the myth that an enlarged prostate means cancer. However, since some men with enlarged prostates may have cancer, it’s very important that all men above 50 years of age get screened on a regular basis.
Key Symptoms of Prostate Cancer and Enlarged Prostate, which are BOTH the same:
- Decreased or weak urination
- Frequent urination at night
- Inability to urinate at night
- Difficulty starting to urinate
- Pain or burning when urinating
- Painful ejaculation
- Difficulty in having an erection
- Blood in the semen (or possibly the urine)
- Pain in the lower back, hips or upper thighs
When a man has any of the warning signals above, he should see his doctor without delay because without a good examination, it’s impossible to know whether he has prostate enlargement, or prostate cancer. While prostate enlargement often causes bothersome signs and symptoms, it is treatable, whereas prostate cancer needs an early diagnosis for cure, and/or control.
Also, since urologists are doctors who specialize in diagnosing and treating prostate disease, in our opinion, that’s the best doctor to see.
Treatment Methods for Prostate Cancer:
Choices for treatment of prostate cancer should basically be decided on together by the affected man and his doctor. When prostate cancer has not spread, choices are generally among the following:
- Watchful waiting, but with a digital rectal examination, and PSA test being done on a regular basis, but no
treatment unless symptoms or signs develop that the tumor is growing
- Surgery — removal of the prostate
- Radiation therapy to remove the cancer cells
- Hormone therapy — with the man taking certain hormones to stop the cells from growing
Remember the Health Power motto: Knowledge + Action = Power!®