What is prostate cancer?
Many men may have questions about prostate cancer as they face recommended blood tests and other screenings. Is it common? Do I have to get screened if I feel perfectly healthy? Here are some answers to common questions surrounding this important men’s health issue.
What is prostate cancer and how common is it?
To understand prostate cancer it’s helpful to understand the prostate which is a roughly walnut-sized gland that surrounds the urethra the tube that releases urine and semen from the body. Cancer of this gland causes it to swell and even to send cancerous cells throughout the body which can cause the tumors to spread. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers among men and one of the leading causes of death. However according to the American Cancer Society when all stages of prostate cancer are included the five-year survival rate is almost 100 percent and the 15-year survival rate is 94 percent.
How does prostate cancer affect the body?
According to My Prostate Cancer Coach symptoms are not always the best indicators of a diagnosis but you may want to check in with your doctor if you’re experiencing chronic hip or back pain or abnormal urination. Another problem with diagnosing based on symptoms is that these symptoms can easily mimic signs of other problems or even just aging. As men age the prostate increases in size which can cause symptoms similar to those of prostate cancer. Most men are diagnosed based on results of a screening.
What are the screening options?
Screening for prostate cancer usually consists of a digital rectal exam (DRE) or a blood test. The rectal exam is used to estimate the size of the prostate and check for lumps or other abnormalities and the blood test will check the amount of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) a protein that is secreted by the prostate. There is no standard test for prostate cancer and both of these are technically still under study according to the National Cancer Institute.
Do I have to get screened?
Reid Health follows the American Cancer Society guidelines for prostate cancer screenings. Consider and discuss screenings with your doctor beginning with annual screenings from ages 55 through 69. Men at higher risk include African Americans and men who have had a father brother or son diagnosed with prostate cancer before age 65. Talk to your doctor about screening during your wellness visit each year.
“What is prostate cancer?” is not an easy question to answer but it’s an important one to start thinking about. 220800 men will be diagnosed this year in the U.S. Talk to your doctor soon or come to one of Reid Health’s free prostate cancer screening events.
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