Monday, September 24, 2012

What you need to know about prostate cancer.

Between 2004 and 2008, prostate cancer was diagnosed 11,217 times in Arkansas. That made it the number one most diagnosed cancer in men in the state during that time period. Nationally, it is the second-leading cause of cancer death in men after lung cancer. In 2012, the American Cancer Society estimates there will be 241,740 new cases of prostate cancer in the country, with the highest numbers occurring in African American men.

Now that we have your attention, we'll share some good news...

Since the early 1990s, death rates have been decreasing in men of all ethnic backgrounds, reflecting the increased prevalence of screenings using the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test. Since 2004, incidence rates have decreased by 2.7% per year in men over 65, and have remained stable in men younger than 65.

What exactly does the prostate gland do? Here's a video that will tell you all about it.

Any swelling of the prostate gland affects the urinary function of the penis, which is not a topic most men want to discuss, even with their doctor. But with early diagnosis, the 5-year survival rates are high. And, due in part to the screenings available, most diagnoses are made early. In an effort to keep that trend going, here are the things you need to know, courtesy of the American Cancer Society's Cancer Facts & Figures 2012 report:

Early prostate cancer usually has no symptoms. But when the disease is in more advanced stages, a tumor increases the size of the prostate gland (which sits just below the bladder). At that time, men may experience weak or interrupted urine flow; inability to urinate or difficulty starting or stopping urine flow; the need to urinate frequently, especially at night; blood in the urine; or pain or burning with urination.

Risk Factors: 
The only well-established risk factors for prostate cancer are increasing age, African ancestry, and a family history of the disease. About 60% of all prostate cancer cases are diagnosed in men 65 years of age and older, and 97% occur in men 50 and older. Recent studies suggest that a diet high in processed meat or diary foods may be a risk factor, and obesity appears to increase risk of aggressive prostate cancer. There is some evidence that risk is elevated in firefighters as well. Here's a study that's currently looking into that.

Early detection: 
At this time, there are insufficient data to recommend for or against routine testing for early prostate cancer detection with the PSA test. The ACS recommends that beginning at age 50, men who are at average risk of prostate cancer and have a life expectancy of at least 10 years receive information about benefits and limitations associated with testing.

If you live in Northwest Arkansas, you might be interested in a free prostate screening scheduled for October 1st, from 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. at the Allen's Grocery Store parking lot (60 Sugar Creek Center) in Bella Vista. To schedule a time, call Cara Harris at 1-800-338-1383.

Remember, regular visits to a physician are vital in the prevention of any kind of cancer. Know your risks and the symptoms, and talk to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns. 

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