Prostate Health: 4 W's + an H

Posted on March 2, 2016 in general health

Prostate health awareness is lagging in the national conversation and plaguing men in the United States. We’ve all heard the 1-in-8 statistic for women’s breast cancer… but do you know the number for men’s prostate cancer? Hold onto your hats: this is a 1-in-7 occurrence.  

 

What do these numbers add up to?

More than a quarter million men in the US will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year and 30,000 will die from it. Why is prostate cancer so serious? Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men (just behind skin cancer), and the second most common cancer-killer for men (just behind lung cancer). If signs and symptoms show up and are handled appropriately, a prostate cancer warrior can turn into a prostate cancer survivor - and join the 2.5 million healthy others in this country.  

 

Who is at risk?

The answer is every man. For better or worse, prostate cancer occurs mostly in men over the age of 65 (66 is the average age of detection) and is seldom seen in men under the age of 40. Though no one knows for certain what causes prostate cancer, there are certain risks to be aware of for prostate cancer:  

 

Main risk factors for prostate cancer:  

  • age over 60
  • African American men are more often affected and may have more serious (advanced stage) disease
  • genetics plays a role in prostate cancer in a small percentage of cases
  • family history, particularly if prostate cancer is present in a brother or father
  • family history when prostate cancer is seen in a brother or father before the age of 65 is even more important in risk
  • some studies have shown a link to higher consumption of red meat

  Possible signs and symptoms:  

  • Most men will be asymptomatic! Or..
  • Blood in urine.
  • Impotence.
  • Pain in bones of the back, chest and hips.
  • Trouble urinating.

Where do we go from here?

Because early stages of prostate cancer are not associated with signs or symptoms, regular screenings are imperative. To understand your personal risk and to figure out what steps you should be taking, have a discussion with your doctor.  

 

How do we look for prostate cancer?

The screening tests include digital rectal exam (DRE) and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood tests. These two steps are the cornerstone of screening asymptomatic men for the disease. These should begin around the age of 50 for average risk men, possibly earlier for those at higher risk due to family history or for African American men. If either of the screening tests is abnormal, further evaluation by a urologist will likely follow. Prostate ultrasound and biopsy may be the next step. Prostate MRI may be indicated in some men as well, particularly for problem-solving complex cases.  

 

For more information, here’s a link to the American Cancer Society prostate health site. Special thanks to Kansas City Urology Care for sponsoring the Zero Prostate Cancer Run/Walk!

 

 

 

 

Image attribution: "Elderly exercise" by National Institutes of Health. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Originally published 9/15/14 on diagnosticimagingcenterskc.com.

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