What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You
Striking one in eleven males in their lifetime, prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men and the second leading cause of cancer death. Among African American men, the disease is more common, striking one in nine. About 135,000 American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and 35,000 will die from it in one year.
The prostate gland…..is a gland about the size of a walnut. It is located under a man’s bladder and wraps around a tube that carries urine out of the bladder. As a man grows older, his prostate may become enlarged. When enlarged, it can interfere with the flow of urine in some men, while others may not experience any problems. These symptoms may not mean cancer, but they do indicate a need to be examined by a health professional.
Identifying prostate cancer …..is extremely difficult without testing. Early prostate cancer usually does not have any symptoms. In fact, screenings using both the prostate specific antigen (PSA) and a digital rectal exam (DRE) have proven to be the only reliable method of identifying the disease in its early stages, when it can be cured most easily. Some typical indications of prostate cancer are:
- weak or interrupted urine flow;
- inability to urinate or difficulty stopping or starting the urine flow; the need to urinate frequently, especially at night;
- blood in the urine or semen;
- burning or pain during urination
- chronic pain in the lower back, pelvis or upper thighs.
Annual screenings are recommended ….. for men age 40 who are African American and/or have a family history of the disease. Annual exams are recommended for men age 50 and over who are at normal risk for prostate cancer.
African American men, for reasons still unknown, and men with a family history of prostate cancer, are at highest risk for developing the disease. Men over the age of 60 with normal risk of prostate cancer show a higher prostate cancer rate. The average age of men with prostate cancer is 72.
Once detected …..prostate cancer can be treated with various procedures, but the range of treatment options is much broader if the disease is detected in its earliest stages. Surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy are some of the options. In some cases, doctors may also suggest “watchful waiting” or carefully monitoring the growth of the cancer before actively taking steps to treat it.
Ladies, if you have a man over the age of 50 …..in your life, encourage him to take advantage of a low-cost prostate cancer screening offered during Prostate Cancer Awareness Week. Health care professionals say that women are often the ones to encourage their men to have a prostate screening that may save their life. Prostate cancer surpassed lung cancer as the most prevalent form of cancer among American men, and an estimated 317,000 men will get prostate cancer this year, so a little encouragement has tremendous value.
The good news is …..that more than 2.5 million men have participated in Prostate Cancer Awareness Week screenings. Increased awareness and early detection prove to have a positive impact. Currently, 58 percent of all prostate cancer cases are detected while the cancer is still localized and at its most curable stage. This shows that men are improving their knowledge of the disease and gaining an advantage through early detection.
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