September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month! Aside from skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer among men in the United States. It often gets less attention than it deserves – a man is 35% more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than a woman is to be diagnosed with breast cancer (Prostate Cancer Foundation). Although it only affects men, everyone should be aware of the risk factors and preventive measures that apply to all of the men in your life.
The prostate is a walnut-sized reproductive gland located in front of the rectum and under the bladder. Prostate cancer occurs when abnormal prostate cells grow and form masses, or tumors. Prostate cancer is generally slow-growing, and may take many years before it is large enough to be detectable.
It is important to be familiar with the risk factors of prostate cancer, because many cases show no symptoms at all. Men are at higher risk if they are over the age of 50, are African-American, or have had a father, brother or son with prostate cancer. However, if you notice difficulties passing urine, low back pain or blood in the semen or urine, contact your doctor as these could be signs of prostate cancer or another medical condition.
In addition to keeping up with regular screenings, maintaining a healthy weight, eating a well-balanced diet, and drinking plenty of water can reduce your risk for developing prostate cancer.
Did You Know?
- In 2012, the U.S. Preventive Task Force recommended against the use of PSA screening for healthy men of all ages, stating that the harms of screening outweigh the benefits (American Cancer Society).
- Men who have a mother or sister that have developed breast cancer are also at increased risk for prostate cancer (Prostate Cancer Foundation).
- The rate of prostate cancer among African-American men is higher than that of other race groups (Prostate Cancer Foundation).
Tips for Cancer Prevention
Preventive screenings should take place at the following ages:
- Age 50 for men who are at average risk of prostate cancer and are expected to live at least 10 more years.
- Age 45 for men at high risk of developing prostate cancer. This includes 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).
- Age 40 for men at even higher risk (those with more than one first-degree relative who had prostate cancer at an early age).
- It is important to have open communication with your doctor and discuss when to receive screenings and which screenings to receive.
You can read more tips about cancer prevention from the American Cancer Society.
Sources: Prostate Cancer Foundation, National Cancer Institute, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Cancer Society, LifeWork Strategies. The Health Tip of the Week is for educational purposes only. For additional information, consult your physician. Please feel free to copy and distribute this health resource.