September is National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. Prostate Cancer is a very serious disease that affects one in seven men during his lifetime. While prostate cancer is so prevalent, many men do not take the time to learn about the disease until diagnosed.

FACTS

    • Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among American men and is the most commonly diagnosed.
    • Currently there are nearly 2.8 million American men living with the disease – roughly equal to the population of Chicago.
    • Every 19 minutes another American man dies from prostate cancer.
    • It is estimated that there will be 220,800 new prostate cancer cases in 2015

About Prostate Cancer:

Prostate cancer is a cancer that starts in the prostate, a small walnut-shaped gland in the male reproductive system. Prostate cancer can spread from the prostate to other organs and the lymph system. When this happens the disease is called metastatic prostate cancer.

There are a few symptoms that may suggest problems with your prostate including: difficulty starting urination, frequent urination (especially at night), weak or interrupted flow of urine, and blood in the urine. Sometimes, men have no symptoms at all.

While there are no known risk factors for prostate cancer, men are more at risk as they grow older (50+),  when there is a family history, and when they consume a high-fat diet. Additionally, there is a link to ethnicity as African-Americans are 1.65 times more likely to get the disease and 2.4 times more likely to die from it.

Detection & Diagnosis:

More than 99 percent of men survive prostate cancer when it is caught early. There are two tests commonly used to screen for prostate cancer: a digital rectal exam (DRE) and a Prostate Specific Antigen Test (PSA) which measures the levels of this protein created by the prostate in the blood. It is important to remember Prostate Cancer can only be diagnosed with a tissue biopsy from the prostate.

Elevated PSA levels do not automatically mean Prostate Cancer, as many other situations and conditions can lead to elevated PSA levels including enlarged prostate, prostate infections, catheters, injury to pelvic region, prostatitis, riding a bicycle, sex within the last 24 hours, urinary tract infections, and more.

General PSA level Guidelines:

  • 0 to 2.5 ng/mL is considered safe
  • 6 to 4 ng/mL is safe in most men but talk with your doctor about other risk factors
  • 0 to 10.0 ng/mL is suspicious and suggest the possibility of prostate cancer
  • 0 ng/mL and above is dangerous and should be discussed with your doctor immediately

There are several avenues to consider if a PSA is high and research continues develop more options every day.

Routine screening for prostate cancer is controversial.  While the US Preventative Services Task Force recommends against the PSA screening test, the American Cancer Society believes men should make an informed decision on the screening based on their overall health status, The American Urological Association recommends against routine screening dependent on age and other factors. While there is no clear consensus among leading health organizations, one thing all agree on is:

Men need to talk with their doctor about the benefits, risks, and limitations of prostate cancer screening prior to deciding whether to be tested.

Resources:

About Prostate Cancer. (2015). Zero: The end of Prostate Cancer. Retrieved August 31, 2015, from http://zerocancer.org/learn/about-prostate-cancer

Detection and Diagnosis. (2015). Zero: The end of Prostate Cancer Retrieved August 31, 2015, from http://zerocancer.org/learn/detection-and-diagnosis

Prostate Cancer Awareness. (2014, December 9). Retrieved August 31, 2015, from http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/dcpc/resources/features/prostatecancer/

Testing. (2015). Zero: The end of Prostate Cancer. Retrieved August 31, 2015, from http://zerocancer.org/learn/testing