Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

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Prostate Cancer Awareness: The Importance of Early Screening

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men in the United States, after skin cancer. It is estimated that 1 in 9 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime. The good news is that prostate cancer is often curable if it is found early.

What is prostate cancer?

The prostate is a small gland in men that produces fluid that helps make semen. Prostate cancer starts when cells in the prostate grow abnormally. These cells can form a tumor that can grow and spread.

What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?

Early prostate cancer often does not cause any symptoms. As the cancer grows, it may cause the following symptoms:
  • Difficulty urinating, such as a weak stream or needing to urinate more often
  • Painful or burning urination
  • Blood in the urine or semen
  • Pain in the back, hips, or pelvis
  • Erectile dysfunction

How is prostate cancer diagnosed?

There are two main tests used to diagnose prostate cancer:
  • The prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test is a blood test that measures the level of PSA in the blood. PSA is a protein produced by the prostate gland. A high PSA level can be a sign of prostate cancer, but it can also be caused by other conditions, such as an enlarged prostate or prostatitis. If the PSA test indicates an increased risk, a doctor may recommend further tests, such as an MRI or a biopsy.
  • The digital rectal exam (DRE) is a physical exam in which the doctor inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to feel the prostate for any abnormalities.

How is prostate cancer treated?

The treatment for prostate cancer depends on the stage of the cancer, the patient’s age and health, and the patient’s preferences. Treatment options include:
  • Active surveillance: This is a watch-and-wait approach in which the cancer is monitored closely but not treated unless it starts to grow or spread.
  • Surgery: This is the removal of the prostate gland.
  • Radiation therapy: This uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells.
  • Hormone therapy: This uses drugs to lower the levels of testosterone, which can help slow the growth of prostate cancer.
  • Chemotherapy: This uses drugs to kill cancer cells.

How can I prevent prostate cancer?

There is no sure way to prevent prostate cancer, but there are some things men can do to reduce their risk, such as:
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Exercising regularly
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Not smoking
  • Limiting alcohol consumption
  • Getting screened for prostate cancer starting at age 45

Talk to your doctor about prostate cancer screening. By raising awareness about prostate cancer, we can help save lives.


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