Aug 31, 2021 Prostate Cancer Awareness Month: Embracing Prostate Health All Year Long

Blue ribbon

The American Cancer Society estimates about one in nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. While we give our attention to prostate cancer during the month of September, men and their loved ones should be proactive about prostate health all year long by being aware of risks and symptoms, and regularly seeing their health care provider.

Know the Risks and Symptoms

While the exact cause of prostate cancer may not be known, studies have found that several factors increase the risk of developing the disease. “Typically, those over the age of 50 are more likely to develop prostate cancer,” says Malini Patel, MD, Director, Medical Oncology, The Cancer Center at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton. “A man’s risk is also higher if an immediate blood relative, such as a father or brother, has had prostate cancer.” Additionally, race is a factor as the disease is more common in African American men than white men. In most prostate cancer cases, symptoms are not noticeable in early stages of the disease.

Symptoms in more advanced prostate cancer can include a change in the frequency or strength of urination, painful or burning urination, blood in urine, difficulty having an erection, painful ejaculation, or blood in semen. Men exhibiting symptoms should see their doctor or a urologist.

Don’t Put off Getting Checked

Prostate abnormalities can be detected with an elevation in a protein in the blood called prostate specific antigen (PSA) or through a digital rectal exam (DRE), where a doctor feels the prostate through the rectal wall to check for lumpy areas. “It is recommended by the American Cancer Society that men to begin talking to their doctor about the harms and the benefits of prostate cancer screening at the age of 50. Men at higher risk (with family history or African American men) should talk to their doctor starting at age 40,” says Dr. Patel.