LiveSmart: September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month – Early Detection and Screening is Key

Excluding skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men in New York. According to the NYS Department of Health, about 14,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year in New York state and 1,700 men die of the disease. It is estimated that one in seven men will develop prostate cancer during his life.

Like most cancers, early diagnosis of prostate cancer is vital. The American Cancer Society reports the five-year survival rate for localized disease, discovered early, is near 100 percent.

The prostate is a walnut-shaped gland located between the bladder and rectum. The urethra runs through the center of the prostate, from the bladder to the penis, allowing urine to flow out of the body.

Prostate cancer occurs when normal cells within the prostate mutate and grow out of control, forming a tumor or collection of abnormal cells. Most prostate cancers are very slow growing and, in the early stages of the disease, there are rarely obvious symptoms. Symptoms of more advanced disease include difficulty with urination, blood in the urine, pain, and fatigue.

Prostate cancer affects mostly older men and advanced age is the biggest risk factor. Men with an increased risk of prostate cancer include those with a family history of prostate cancer, especially if the family member was diagnosed at an early age (under age 50).

African American men also have a higher rate of incidence and a more aggressive disease and it may occur at a younger age. Obesity is another known risk factor.

The screening guidelines for prostate cancer vary, so the most important action for all men to take is to have a conversation with their primary care physician at their annual visit about screening and the most appropriate age to begin. This conversation should take place around age 50 for the average male, and no later than age 40 for African-American men or those with a family history.

Screening tools include a blood test known as a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) and a digital rectal exam, which allows the doctor to feel for gland enlargement or abnormalities.

Early detection is vital for long-term survival. Take control of your health and talk to your health care provider today about prostate cancer screening.

St. Peter’s Health Partners treats all types of cancers – such as those affecting the breast, colon, rectum, lung, bladder, prostate, ovary, uterus, liver, pancreas, kidney, blood, lymphatic system, head, neck, and spine. We offer advanced diagnostic technologies, cutting-edge treatment options, genetic counseling, and clinical trials. Our approach is patient-centered and supported by a multidisciplinary team.

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