September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, which is intended to empower men to take control of their health — and encourage their loved ones to support them.
Get the Facts
Learn about prostate cancer to start stepping up against it.
- Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer in America.
- 1 out of every 9 men in the United States will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime.
- Early detection is key to surviving prostate cancer.
- A man will be diagnosed with prostate cancer every 3 minutes.
- African-American men are 2.4 times more likely to die of prostate cancer than Caucasian men.
- Prostate cancer is 100% treatable, if detected early.
What are the Symptoms of Prostate Cancer?
Unfortunately, there usually aren’t any early warning signs for prostate cancer. The growing tumor does not push against anything to cause pain, so for many years the disease may be silent. That’s why screening for prostate cancer is such an important topic for all men and their families.
In rare cases, prostate cancer can cause symptoms. Contact your doctor for an evaluation if you experience any of the following.
- A need to urinate frequently, especially at night
- Difficulty starting or holding back urination
- Weak, dribbling, or interrupted flow of urine
- Painful or burning urination
- Difficulty in have an erection
- A decrease in the amount of fluid ejaculated
- Painful ejaculation
- Blood in the urine or semen
- Pressure or pain in the rectum
- Pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, pelvis, or thighs
Urinary symptoms don’t necessarily mean you have cancer. Prostatitis or Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy (BPH, also known as an enlargement of the prostate) are benign diseases that can cause similar symptoms and are very common. That said, symptoms, and no matter what’s causing them, should get checked out by a doctor.
Prostate Cancer Screening
The goal of screening for prostate cancer is to find cancers that may be at high risk for spreading if not treated, and to find them early before they spread.
Screening for prostate cancer begins with a blood test called a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test. This test measures the level of PSA in the blood. The level of PSA in the blood can be higher in men who have prostate cancer.
However, many factors, such as age and race, can affect PSA levels. Some prostate glands also make more PSA than others. PSA levels can also be affected certain medications, a prostate infection, an enlarged prostate, and certain medical procedures. Older men are more likely to have false positive results, which occurs when a man has an abnormal PSA test, but does not have prostate cancer. A false positive test can lead to an unnecessary test, like a biopsy of the prostate.
Because many factors can affect PSA levels, your doctor is the best person to interpret your PSA test results. If the PSA test is abnormal, your doctor may recommend a biopsy to find out if you have prostate cancer.
In 2018, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended that men who are 55 to 69 years old should make individual decisions about being screened for prostate cancer with a PSA test. Before making a decision, men should talk to their doctor about the benefits and harms of screening for prostate cancer, including the benefits and harms of other tests and treatment. Men who are 70 years old and older should not be routinely screened for prostate cancer. This recommendation applies to men who are at average risk for prostate cancer, are at increased risk for prostate cancer, do not have symptoms of prostate cancer, and have never been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
The CDC reports that screening may prevent three men from developing prostate cancer that spreads to other places in the body for every 1,000 men screened.
FREE Prostate Cancer Patient Guide
Developed by the Prostate Cancer Foundation, the Prostate Cancer Patient Guide is a must-have resource for prostate cancer patients. It focuses on all of the information available about contemporary prostate cancer research and lifestyle factors. It is for any many who has been newly diagnosed, who is in treatment, or is concerning about a rising PSA. It is also intended for any loved one or caregiver who wants to cut through the information noise and get directly to need-to-know information for prostate cancer patient navigation.
Lastly, this guide is for any family member who might want to understand how their shared genes affect their own short- and long-term risks factors, and whether they should be screened as well.
Article resources: Centers for Disease Control, American Urological Association, American Cancer Society, American College of Physicians, and Prostate Cancer Foundation.
The information on this blog is provided for general information purposes and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, care, treatment or evaluation; nor should it be used in diagnosing a health condition. You are encouraged to consult your health care provider if you or a family member has or suspect you have a medical problem.