Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men. It accounts for about 11 percent of male cancer-related deaths, making prostate cancer the second leading cause of cancer death in men. The good news is, 58 percent of all prostate cancers are found while they are still localized, and the cure rate can be as high as 100 percent.
Most cases of early prostate cancer cause no symptoms and are detectable only by a prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test and/or digital rectal exam (DRE). Cancers found by early detection testing using the PSA blood test and/or DRE are, on average, smaller and localized. The American Cancer Society recommends an annual PSA blood test and DRE beginning at age 50. Men who are at high risk for prostate cancer may begin screening at a younger age, based on their physician's recommendation.
Who's at Risk
While the causes of prostate cancer are not yet completely understood, researchers have found several factors that are consistently associated with an increased risk of developing this disease. Some of these risk factors cannot be changed, such as:
- Age: The chance of having prostate cancer increases rapidly after age 50.
- Race: Prostate cancer is twice as common among African-American men as it is among white American men.
- Family History: Having a father or brother with prostate cancer doubles a man's risk of developing the disease.
There are other possible risk factors for prostate cancer that can be changed. A diet low in fat and consisting mostly of vegetables, fruits and grains is associated with reduced risk of prostate cancer. Regular physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight may also help reduce prostate cancer risk.
While most cases of early prostate cancer cause no symptoms, some men with prostate cancer experience a slowing or weakening of the urinary stream or the need to urinate more frequently. Symptoms of advanced prostate cancer may include blood in the urine, difficulty having an erection, and pain in the pelvis, spine, hips or ribs. However, these symptoms could be an indication of something other than cancer.
Individuals with prostate cancer have access to leading edge diagnostic and treatment services at Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center and Morris Hospital. Both hospitals offer surgical treatment and inpatient care for cancer patients and are accredited by the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons. In addition, patients have access to the region's most advanced treatment options, including outpatient chemotherapy, as well as internal and external radiation therapy, through Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center's Sister Theresa Cancer Care Center, where a team of radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, surgeons and other medical and clinical specialists work together to develop an individualized treatment plan for each cancer patient.
If you are age 50 or older or if you are at high risk for prostate cancer, ask your physician whether you should have a prostate screening. It could save your life.
A special acknowledgement to the American Cancer Society.