Around Our Town...To Your Health
Prostate Cancer Awareness
10/01/2005 - Prostate cancer is is the most common type of cancer (excluding skin cancer) diagnosed in American men. According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, one in six men will develop prostate cancer sometime in their lifetime.
Early prostate cancer may not cause any symptoms. However, as the tumor grows, it may spread from the prostate to surrounding areas. If symptomatic, some may include changes in urination such as frequency, difficulty starting or stopping the urinary stream, a weak or interrupted urinary stream or dribbling of urine. Other symptoms may include pain or burning on urination, blood in the urine, pain in lower back, pelvis or upper thighs
The value of early detection
The prognosis for prostate cancer patients has improved dramatically over the years. According to prostate.com, a TAP Pharmaceuticals sponsored website, "over the past 20 years, the overall survival rates for all stages of prostate cancer combined have increased from 67% to 97%. This means more men are living longer after diagnosis.
Some of the possible reasons for this increase in survival rates include public awareness and early detection."
Diagnosing prostate cancer
Diagnosing prostate cancer involves several tests and exams. Your physician may first ask you questions about your medical history, your family history of cancer and any symptoms you may be experiencing. Examinations may include:
Digital Rectal Exam (DRE)
Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test
Transrectal Ultrasound (TRUS)
Prostate cancer treatment options
According to the American Cancer Society, the five-year relative survival rate for patients whose cancers are detected while still in the local and regional stages is 100%.
The major treatment options for prostate cancer include:
Watchful waiting (Observation)
These options are not listed in any particular order. The options selected for your treatment may depend on several factors, including age, disease stage and the advice of your physician.
Who should get tested
The American Cancer Society recommends health care professionals should offer the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test and digital rectal examination (DRE) yearly, beginning at age 50, to men who have at least a 10-year life expectancy. Men at high risk, such as African Americans and men who have a first-degree relative (father, brother, or son) diagnosed with prostate cancer at an early age (younger than age 65), should begin testing at age 45.
Men at even higher risk (those who have several first-degree relatives who had prostate cancer at an early age) could begin testing at age 40. ACS believes health care professionals should give men the opportunity to openly discuss the benefits and risks of testing at annual checkups and that men should actively participate in the decision by learning about prostate cancer and the pros and cons of early detection and treatment of prostate cancer.