All men are at risk for prostate cancer. According to the CDC, 13 of every 100 American men will get prostate cancer in their lifetime. Of those 13, 2-3 will die from prostate cancer. This September, Blue Hills is shining a spotlight on prostate cancer to help spread awareness and to inform our patients about the benefits of getting screened.
What is the prostate?
The prostate is a small, squishy gland (about the size of a ping-pong ball) located deep inside the groin, between the base of the penis and the rectum. It is vital for reproduction, because it supplies the seminal fluid, which mixes with sperm from the testes. Seminal fluid helps the sperm to travel and survive. Prostate cancer is when a prostate cell grows out of control - developing into a tumor.
The main risk factor for prostate cancer is age. The average age a man is diagnosed with prostate cancer is 66 years old. It very rarely occurs in men under the age of 40. Other important factors include: family history, race. lifestyle and dietary habits.
Unfortunately, there usually aren’t any early warning signs for prostate cancer. The growing tumor does not push against anything to cause pain, so for many years the disease may be silent. That’s why screening for prostate cancer is such an important topic for all men and their families.
In rare cases, prostate cancer can cause symptoms. Contact your doctor for an evaluation if you experience any of the following:
A need to urinate frequently, especially at night, some- times urgently
Difficulty starting or holding back urination
Weak, dribbling, or interrupted flow of urine
Painful or burning urination
Difficulty in having an erection
A decrease in the amount of fluid ejaculated
Blood in the urine or semen
Pressure or pain in the rectum
Pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, pelvis, or thighs
Prostate Cancer Screening:
Cancer screening means looking for cancer before it causes symptoms. The goal of screening for prostate cancer is to find cancer early that may spread if not treated.
Two tests that are commonly used to screen for prostate cancer are:
A blood test called a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test. PSA is a substance your prostate makes. This test measures the level of PSA in your blood. Your PSA level may be high if you have prostate cancer and for many other reasons, such as having an enlarged prostate, a prostate infection, or taking certain medicines.
Digital rectal examination, when a health care provider inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into a man’s rectum to feel the prostate for anything abnormal, such as cancer.
There is actually a lot of debate on whether screening for prostate cancer annually is a good idea. For some, the risks outweighs the benefits as many men can live a normal, healthy life while not being treating prostate cancer. Talk to your Blue Hills provider about the benefits and risks of getting screened. If you have more questions, be sure to make an appointment with your Blue Hills doctor today.