Every September, medical professionals across North America observe Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. During the month of September, the medical community puts a spotlight on prostate cancer and prostate health as a whole. Prostate cancer is the most diagnosed form of cancer in men, as well as being the second leading cause of cancer-related death. In honor of Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, UAM would like to take this opportunity to share some facts about this disease and break down the importance of getting a regular prostate screening.
The prostate is a walnut-sized gland found below the bladder in the male reproductive system. The function of the prostate gland is to produce seminal fluid, which is used to nourish and transport sperm.
Prostate cancer occurs when cells within the prostate gland develop abnormal changes in their DNA. The abnormal cells begin to accumulate in the prostate, resulting in the formation of a tumor that invades the prostate tissue. There is also a risk of the abnormal cells spreading (metastasizing) to other parts of the body, such as the bladder or bones, causing further complications.
In some cases, prostate cancer develops slowly, however, there are just as many cases of prostate cancer that are more aggressive and spread far more rapidly. Risk factors include older age (most commonly over 50), family history of prostate cancer, obesity, and race (African-Americans have the greatest risk of developing prostate cancer in their lifetime).
Prostate cancer may show little to no symptoms in the early stages of development. As the disease progresses, patients may experience symptoms such as difficulty when urinating, blood in urine and/or semen, weight loss, and bone pain. Additionally, prostate cancer can potentially result in some men developing urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction.
In order to properly diagnose prostate cancer, doctors may utilize ultrasound diagnosis and MRI scanning. Another primary diagnosis technique involves prostate biopsy, the sampling of prostate tissue that is then analyzed in a lab for cancer cells. The biopsy results are used to determine the presence of prostate cancer, as well as the aggressiveness of the cancer. In some cases, doctors will run additional tests to see if the cancer has spread to any other part of the body.
Treatment options vary, depending on the stage of the cancer growth and the symptoms. Common treatment techniques include chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and radiation therapy. In more severe cases of prostate cancer, the patient will undergo surgery to remove the prostate and some surrounding tissue from the body.
When it comes to prostate cancer, early detection plays a major role in the outcome of the disease. Doctors primarily utilize a prostate-specific antigen test (PSA test ) in order to screen patients for prostate cancer. A PSA test is a blood test that measures the level of PSA in your bloodstream, as it is most commonly found that higher levels of PSA are correlated to prostate cancer. Men over 50 and those with a family history of prostate cancer are recommended to get regular annual PSA screenings, as early detection allows doctors to properly treat the cancer before it spreads to other parts of the body.
Prostate cancer is treatable and detecting it early could save your life. If you’re over 50, or know someone who is, schedule regular PSA screenings with your doctor to stay on top of your prostate health.
Every September, medical professionals across North America observe Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. During the month of September, the medical community puts a spotlight on prostate cancer and prostate health as a whole. Prostate cancer is the most diagnosed form of cancer in men, as well as being the second leading cause of cancer-related death. In…