Prostate cancer is one of the commonest cancer types in men, second only to lung cancer. However it is also one of the most survivable forms of cancer, with up to 8 out of ten diagnosed patients surviving over 10 years after being diagnosed. In fact in 95% of cases when the disease was identified early on, patients lived. Prostate cancer is nonetheless a very serious risk, which is why there is extensive, free testing done for it nearly everywhere in the western world, particularly in people over 65. Here are ten facts about prostate cancer that you should know.
10. November is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month
All over the world November is considered prostate cancer awareness month. Throughout the month clinics and hospitals offer free prostate cancer screening and advice. November is also Movember, a month-long prostate awareness and fundraiser campaign, Men grow a moustache (or shave their moustache off) for money and donate the funds to a foundation.
9. Race is Important
Race plays an important role in prostate cancer. Black men are more prone to develop prostate cancer than white men and the disease is more aggressive in them. Pacific Islander and Asians are however less likely to get prostate cancer.
8. Age is important
Young people rarely develop prostate cancer, with people over 65 having the greatest chance of developing the disease. In fact, a study revealed that persons over 65 had a chance of getting the disease equal to their age. An 80-year-old man would therefore have an 80% chance of having or developing the disease.
7. Family History Matters
Men who have close family (father, brother, uncle) diagnosed with prostate cancer at at a higher risk of developing the disease themselves, particularly if their family member was diagnosed with the disease at an early age.
6. The situation is improving
Prostate cancer death rates peaked in the 1990s and have fallen by about 20% since, mostly thanks to more widespread screening for the disease. While 40 years ago the survival rate for prostate cancer was 25-30% today the disease is much more treatable. Caught in an early stage, prostate cancer can be easily treated and even in general the survival rate is over 80%.
5. Prostate Cancer can be very non-aggressive
Early stage prostate cancer can be very slow to develop and you might not need any surgery at all! If the cancer shows no signs of spreading, your doctor might recommend intense observation instead of invasive or dangerous treatment, particularly if you have other health issues or are very old.
4. There are several treatment methods
Depending on how advanced the prostate cancer is, your doctor might recommend hormone therapy (to counteract testosterone secretion, shown to influence prostate cancer growth), radiation therapy, cryotherapy, chemotherapy or a prostectomy. The latter is usually performed laparoscopically (the so-called ‘keyhole’ surgery, almost non-invasive) with the aid of cutting edge robotics.
3. Prostate Screening can be non-invasive
The traditional prostate examination is important but younger patients’ risks of prostate cancer can be assessed with a blood test measuring a prostate specific antigen. The blood test is sometimes inaccurate as many factors can influence the PSA levels. If the levels are low, however you might not need a rectal exam. Taking it, however is a very good idea.
2. Prostate cancer Symptoms
Symptoms may include difficulty starting urination, frequent urination, weak flows, interrupted flows, problem emptying the bladder as well as pain during urination or ejaculation, plod during either or a pressure or pain in your lower back. If you experience any of these see your healthcare professional for a prostate exam.
1. It’s not the end of the world!
Being diagnosed with prostate cancer is not the end of the world. In fact there are over two million people living with prostate cancer in the US alone! Prostate cancer is one of the most survivable types of cancer so don’t despair if you’ve been diagnosed. And if you haven’t been diagnosed, man up and get your check ups on time. The disease is very treatable but it’s better to catch it at as early a stage as possible. Above all, keep positive and spread awareness about prostate cancer, and donate to research if you can.