As summer comes to an end it’s time to get serious, not just about work and other responsibilities, but about your health. September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month and a critical time to discuss your prostate health with your doctor. Did you know that prostate cancer is the second most common cancer diagnosed in men in the United States? This year, an estimated 161,360 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, and about 26,730 will die from the disease.
Men, here is what you need to know to reduce your risk for prostate cancer. Women, share this information with the important men in your life. When prostate cancer is detected early, men have a significantly higher chance of beating this disease.
Here are answers to the most common prostate cancer questions to help you reduce your risk for or have it detected in an early stage.
1. What is a prostate?
The prostate is a small organ about the size of a walnut that is located under the bladder and over the rectum. With age, the prostate can become larger—this growth is usually a benign condition known as an enlarged prostate, and it can be treated. However, it’s important to make sure this problem isn’t caused by prostate cancer first.
2. Am I at risk?
Prostate cancer is most common in men over the age of 50. African American men are 56% more likely to develop prostate cancer compared to Caucasian men and nearly 2.5 times as likely to die from the disease. Men with a first-degree relative (father, brother or son) with a history of prostate cancer are twice as likely to develop the disease.
3. Should I get screened?
We recommend men talk to their doctor about the pros and cons of getting screened at age 50. If you are an African American male with a family history of prostate cancer, start this conversation around age 40.
4. Can I help reduce my risk?
Maintaining a healthy weight, exercising and not using tobacco products have been shown to help reduce your risk. Regardless of your lifestyle, you should discuss your prostate health with your doctor by age 50.
5. What are the symptoms?
Urinary problems, a painful or difficult erection and pain in the lower back, pelvis or upper thighs are all symptoms of prostate cancer. If you are experiencing any of these, talk to your doctor.
This month, talk to your friends and family about prostate cancer prevention and early detection. Keep that conversation going all year to help your loved ones stay cancer free. For more information on cancer prevention and early detection, visit preventcancer.org.