By Richard Fowler, MD, Internal Medicine specialist
Each year, more than 160,000 men in the United States are diagnosed with prostate cancer, and approximately 19% die from it. Prostate cancer is the second leading cancer-related cause of death among men. To raise awareness and early detection, September is designated as Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.
Five facts about prostate cancer:
- Prostate cancer is typically slow-growing, making early detection more likely if the patient sees his physician for regular exams and screenings.
- Older men are more likely to get prostate cancer. About 60% of cases are in men age 65 and older.
- African-American men are more likely to develop prostate cancer than white or Hispanic men; Asian men have a lower risk.
- Major risk factors are genetics and family history. Studies examining the link between prostate cancer and a diet high in red meat, chemical exposures including smoking, sexually-transmitted infections and having had a vasectomy have produced conflicting results.
The American Cancer Society recommends that at age 50, men discuss the risks and benefits of screening with their physician. African American men and those with a family history of prostate cancer should have this discussion at age 40-45. Screening includes two tests one of which is a blood test and the other a digital rectal exam.
Early stage prostate cancer may cause few or no symptoms. As this cancer progresses and tumors grow, symptoms may include:
- Blood in the urine or semen
- Difficulty getting an erection
- Difficulty urinating
- Pain in the lower back and hips
As the cancer spreads and/or metastasizes, other symptoms, like bone pain, may occur. Treatment is dependent on the stage of the cancer and may include medications, surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and/or other options.
Talk with your primary care physician for more information on prostate cancer and your risks. To find a DMG primary care provider near you, click here.