What Every Man Should Know

Group of Men

10 Questions Men Should Ask Their Doctors About Prostate Cancer;
American Cancer Society Encourages Men To Get The Facts About Prostate Cancer

Let’s help the men in our lives celebrate a world with more birthdays. September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, and the American Cancer Society is encouraging men to get the facts about prostate cancer to make informed decisions about maintaining their prostate health.

The good news is the five-year relative survival rate for men with localized prostate cancer (cancer that has not spread beyond the prostate gland) is near 100 percent.  Ninety-one percent of men diagnosed with prostate cancer survive 10 years and 76 percent survive 15 years. The bad news is prostate cancer is still the second leading cause of cancer deaths among men in the United States and will kill 32,050 men this year. 

Knowledge is the key to surviving prostate cancer so here, courtesy of the American Cancer Society, are 10 questions every man should ask his doctor about prostate cancer.

1.    What is prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer is a malignancy that develops from cells of the prostate gland that may eventually spread outside the gland to other parts of the body.  The prostate gland is about the size of a walnut and is behind the base of the penis and under the bladder.  Most prostate cancers grow very slowly; however, some prostate cancers spread quickly to other areas.

2.    What causes prostate cancer?
While we do not yet know exactly what causes prostate cancer, we do know that certain risk factors are linked to the disease. A risk factor is anything that increases a person's chance of getting a disease.
Though researchers have identified some risk factors and are making progress toward understanding how these factors cause cells in the prostate gland to become cancerous.

Evidence exists that development of prostate cancer is linked to increased levels of certain hormones.  It is thought that high levels of androgens (male hormones) may contribute to prostate cancer risk in some men. Also it is caused by changes in the DNA of a prostate cancer cell. DNA makes up our genes, which control how cells behave.  This year the American Cancer Society is dedicating more than $55 million in prostate cancer research grants.

3.    Can prostate cancer be prevented?
Because the exact cause of prostate cancer is not known, we are not certain how to prevent most cases of the disease.  Risk factors such as age, race and family history are beyond a man's control.  One possible risk factor that can be changed is diet.  A diet high in animal fat (dairy and meat) seems to increase the risk of prostate cancer.  The American Cancer Society recommends a diet low in fat and consisting mostly of vegetables, fruits and grains.

4.    How is prostate cancer found?
Through a prostate-specific antigen test (PSA) and digital rectal exam (DRE), most cancers are detected when they are asymptomatic.   Some prostate cancers may be found because of symptoms, such as slowing or weakening of the urinary stream or the need to urinate more often.  Symptoms of advanced prostate cancer include hematuria (blood in the urine), swollen lymph nodes in the groin area, impotence (difficulty having an erection) and pain in the pelvis, spine, hips or ribs. 

Early detection may prove beneficial for some because 90 percent of all prostate cancers are discovered while still apparently localized and the five-year survival rate for patients whose cancers are diagnosed at this stage is near 100 percent.  Over the past 20 years, the survival rate for all stages combined has increased from 67 percent to nearly 100 percent.

5.    Am I at risk for prostate cancer?
Several factors, such as age, race, nationality, diet, physical activity and family history are consistently associated with an increased risk of developing prostate cancer.  In addition, African-American men are nearly twice as likely to develop prostate cancer than other American men.  The American Cancer Society encourages men to learn about this disease and ask their doctors if they fall within a high-risk group and whether prostate cancer testing is right for them.

6.    Should I be tested for prostate cancer?
The American Cancer Society recommends that men have the opportunity to make an informed decision with their health care provider about screening for prostate cancer after receiving information about the uncertainties, risk, and potential benefits associated with screening. Men at average risk should start talking to their doctor beginning at age 50.  Men at higher risk, including African-Americans
should talk to their doctor about prostate testing at age 45.  For men who’ve had a first-degree relative diagnosed with prostate cancer, at age 40.  Information about prostate cancer can be found on the American Cancer Society Web site at www.cancer.org or by calling 1-800-227-2345.

7.    If I choose to be tested, what tests are available?
The prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test and the digital rectal exam (DRE) are commonly used methods to detect prostate cancer. The PSA blood test measures a substance made by the prostate called prostate-specific antigen – the higher the level, the more likely cancer is present. DRE involves inserting a rubber-gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to feel for lumps or enlargement of the prostate.

8.    How is prostate cancer treated?
Many different ways exist to treat prostate cancer including surgery, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, chemotherapy, expectant therapy (watching-and-waiting or deferred therapy) and experimental/ clinical trials.  Men need to discuss the most appropriate course of action for themselves with their physicians.

9.    Can prostate cancer be cured?
Prostate cancer can be cured in many cases.  Learn the facts about the disease, and decide with your doctor and your family what treatment option may be best for you.

10.    How many new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed each year?
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer (excluding skin cancer) among men in New York and New Jersey.  In New York about 14,840 new cases will diagnosed this year, while in New Jersey roughly 6,790 men will learn they have prostate cancer.  Nationally 217,730 new cases will be diagnosed this year.

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 About the American Cancer Society
The American Cancer Society combines an unyielding passion with nearly a century of experience to save lives and end suffering from cancer. As a global grassroots force of more than three million volunteers, we fight for every birthday threatened by every cancer in every community. We save lives by helping people stay well by preventing cancer or detecting it early; helping people get well by being there for them during and after a cancer diagnosis; by finding cures through investment in groundbreaking discovery; and by fighting back by rallying lawmakers to pass laws to defeat cancer and by rallying communities worldwide to join the fight. As the nations largest non-governmental investor in cancer research, contributing about $3.4 billion, we turn what we know about cancer into what we do. As a result, more than 11 million people in America who have had cancer and countless more who have avoided it will be celebrating birthdays this year. To learn more about us or to get help, call us anytime, day or night, at 1-800-227-2345 or visit cancer.org.