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Take charge of your health: Sept. is National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

From Harlan ARH

According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in American men, behind lung cancer. About one man in 41 will die of prostate cancer.

This year, the American Cancer Society has estimated there will be about 191,930 new cases of prostate cancer and about 33,330 deaths from prostate cancer in the U.S.

“Prostate cancer is rare in men younger than 40, but the chance of having prostate cancer increases significantly after age 50, especially in African-American men or those with a family history of prostate cancer,” explained ARH oncologist Dr. Mohamed Shanshal.

The American Cancer Society recommends these screening guidelines:

  • 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 or brother) 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).

Most prostate cancers can be found early through screening.  Early prostate cancer usually causes no symptoms. More advanced prostate cancers can sometimes cause symptoms, such as problems urinating, including a slow or weak urinary stream or the need to urinate more often, especially at night; blood in the urine or semen; trouble getting an erection (erectile dysfunction or ED).

Men who want to be screened for prostate cancer should be tested with the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test. Men with a PSA level between four and 10 have about a one in four chance of having prostate cancer. If the PSA is more than 10, the chance of having prostate cancer is more than 50 percent.

In addition, the digital rectal exam (DRE) can be done as a part of the screening. The prostate is in front of the rectum. Prostate cancers often begin in the back part of the gland, which may be found during a rectal exam.

According to the guidelines from U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, having a father or brother with prostate cancer more than doubles a man’s risk of developing this disease. The risk is much higher for men with several affected relatives, particularly if their relatives were young when the cancer was found.

“Men should take charge of their health and get screened for prostate cancer,” stated Shanshal.  “It is the best way to find cancers early before they spread.”

According to the American Cancer Society, one man in nine will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. Although prostate cancer is a serious disease, more than 3.1 million men in the U.S. who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point are still alive today.

For more information on prostate cancer and early detection, visit www.cancer.org/cancer/prostate-cancer/early-detection. If you are 40 or older, schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider and get screened for prostate cancer.

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