Catch prostate cancer early. It could save your life

  • Prostate cancer is the second most common type of cancer in American men
  • This kind of cancer usually grows slowly and doesn't need aggressive treatment
  • Men over 55 should consider being screened for prostate cancer

About one in nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, but experts say early detection can be a lifesaver.

"Prostate cancer that is detected early, typically while it is still within the prostate gland, has a better chance of being successfully treated," explained Dr Alexander Kutikov, chief of the Division of Urologic Oncology at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia.

"Some types of prostate cancer are aggressive. However, most cancers are quite slow-growing, and a significant portion can be monitored without aggressive treatment," he said in a Fox Chase news release.

Men aged 55–69 should consider prostate cancer screening, the American Urological Association says.

No symptoms in early stages

"Much debate has centred around screening for prostate cancer. Given the risks and benefits of screening, not every man should be screened for prostate cancer," Kutikov said. "Men should talk to their health care provider about their risk factors, options and preferences. Together, they can make a decision."

In the early stages, prostate cancer usually causes no symptoms. More advanced prostate cancer may cause: difficulty urinating, including a slow or weak urinary stream or the need to urinate more often, especially at night; blood in urine or semen; pain or burning during urination; discomfort in the pelvic area; bone pain, or trouble getting an erection.

"Many of these symptoms can be caused by something other than prostate cancer. However, you should let your healthcare provider know if you show any signs so the cause may be determined and treated, if needed," Kutikov said.

September is National Prostate Cancer Awareness month. Prostate cancer is the second most common type of cancer in American men, according to the American Cancer Society. It says there will be about 191 000 new prostate cancer cases and more than 33 000 prostate cancer deaths in the United States in 2020.

Risk factors for prostate cancer include: older age (about 60% of prostate cancers are diagnosed in men over 65); race/ethnicity (Black men and Caribbean men of African ancestry have higher prostate cancer rates than men of other races), and a family history of prostate cancer.

Image credit: iStock

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