One in nine American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, which is the second leading cause of cancer deaths and the most commonly diagnosed.
Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in men, affecting approximately 165,000 men each year, with about 30,000 dying from the disease — making it second only to lung cancer as the deadliest cancer in men.
Among those statistics, one in six African-American men will develop the disease in his lifetime, which is almost twice the rate of white males. African-American men are also 2.3 times as likely to die from the disease.
“Finding prostate cancer at an early stage gives patients the best hopes for effective treatment and living cancer-free,” said Mike Leventhal, executive director of Tennessee Men’s Health Network. “That is why it is crucial for men to know about and understand the disease, especially African-American men, who are being affected in larger numbers.”
“We also know that more research needs to be done to find more effective and advanced treatments for these men,” Leventhal continued.
Caught early, prostate cancer can be treated, usually successfully. But remember, in the early stages, prostate cancer has no symptoms, so don’t wait for “something bad” to happen before you seek medical treatment.
If the disease progresses to the advanced stage, also known as metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC), the prognosis becomes poor, with a median survival rate of around three years.
Patient outcomes are positively impacted by improved awareness of the disease, an understanding of increased risks for developing it and access to recent medical advances that can extend the time a patient lives without cancer spreading.
For individuals diagnosed with prostate cancer, shared decision making between the patient, his family, other caregivers, and his physician is important.
Patients should talk to their doctors to learn more about the disease, treatment options and to find support groups and services in their communities or online.
For almost 30 years, doctors have had a powerful weapon in their arsenal for detecting prostate cancer.
In addition to the digital rectal exam (or DRE, a physical exam allowing the doctor to feel the prostate), patients can have a simple blood test called a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) that will detect a majority of prostate problems early.
Since the PSA has been used, prostate cancer deaths have declined and the number of successfully treated prostate cancer cases has risen.
During September — Prostate Cancer Awareness Month — Leventhal and the Men’s Health network are encouraging men to talk to their healthcare providers regarding their potential risks of developing prostate cancer, as well as when screening and related tests for early detection are needed.
They also encourage women to get involved and urge their husbands, fathers, brothers and other loved ones to talk to their physicians about prostate screening, including the PSA and DRE tests.
Men’s Health Network urges the following men to talk to their healthcare provider about routine prostate cancer screening:
- all men over age 50, and at age 40 for African-Americans
- men with a family history of prostate cancer
- veterans exposed to Agent Orange
- men exposed to pesticides and certain other chemicals.
The bottom line? Having an annual prostate exam, including a PSA test, just might save your life.