Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men, about 1 in 9 men will be diagnosed in their lifetime. Below are seven things that you may not know about prostate cancer that can help you detect it earlier and understand this type of cancer better if you have received a diagnosis.
- The majority of men survive a prostate cancer diagnosis.
- Prostate cancer can affect men of all ages.
- Symptoms may be difficult to recognize.
- It can be hereditary.
- Treatment isn’t always the first option.
- Prostate cancer is more common in some races.
- Lifestyle may affect your likelihood of getting prostate cancer.
1. The Majority of Men Survive a Prostate Cancer Diagnosis
Though prostate cancer is very common in men, the survival rate is high. Ninety-five percent of all prostate cancer cases are detected while the cancer is still confined to the prostate, and that means it’s easier to monitor and treat. Also, 99% of men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer survive at least 5 years after the diagnosis. Even though early detection and treatment are helping men live longer with a prostate cancer diagnosis, it’s still a serious disease that every man must watch out for. If not treated, it can spread to other parts of the body.
2. Prostate Cancer Can Affect Men of All Ages
Age is one of the biggest risk factors for prostate cancer. The average age of diagnosis is 66 years old but younger men can also receive a diagnosis. Prostate cancer in young men is often more aggressive and more dangerous. These aggressive cancers can possibly spread to other parts of the body quickly, which causes many new problems. That’s why men age 40 and older must pay attention to warning signs and schedule an appointment with their doctor if anything seems out of the ordinary. Screening guidelines from the American Cancer Society for prostate cancer are as follows:
- Age 50 for men who have an average risk of prostate cancer
- Age 45 for men with a high risk of prostate cancer (if you have an immediate family member under 65 that has been diagnosed with prostate cancer or you are African American).
- Age 40 for men with a very high risk for prostate cancer (if you have more than one immediate relative diagnosed with prostate cancer before age 65).
3. Prostate Cancer Symptoms May be Difficult to Recognize
There are symptoms that suggest that there are cancerous cells within the prostate, but the symptoms are similar to other diseases or conditions. They can be so subtle that they go unnoticed until they cause more problems. Symptoms can include one or more of the following:
- an increased need to urinate
- trouble controlling urine stream
- sexual issues including painful ejaculation and erectile dysfunction
Many do not present these symptoms and are only detected by physical exam or PSA testing. Men who experience any of these symptoms should think about screening for prostate cancer, especially if they are 50 or older. If something is unusual it’s best to have it checked out by your physician.
4. Prostate Cancer Can Be Hereditary
Age and lifestyle can contribute to the development of prostate cancer. However, studies show that it can be caused by hereditary factors. A BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation can lead to prostate cancer (this is the same gene mutation that is associated with some breast cancers). Learn more about the gene panel tests that can find cancer-associated mutations. Men who have other males in their families that have been diagnosed with prostate cancer should monitor themselves closely and consult their physician to look for the signs of prostate cancer.
Treatment isn’t always necessary once prostate cancer is detected.
Researchers are not completely sure of the exact connection between the BRCA gene and this type of cancer but they have found that men with this gene mutation increases the likelihood of a prostate cancer diagnosis.
5. Treatment Isn’t Always the First Option for Prostate Cancer
Many people believe that treatment is necessary immediately once cancer is detected, but this isn’t always the case for prostate cancer patients who have a slow-growing type of cancer.
Often there are signs of prostate cancer in laboratory work, but little symptoms present otherwise. A biopsy is sometimes recommended which will provide important details as to the risk of progression and or the need for treatment. Your doctors may suggest that waiting and monitoring is an acceptable course of action. For patients who are advanced in age, rushing into treatment is not always the best option. It can put a large amount of stress on them and decrease their overall health. During this time your doctor is going to run tests periodically to watch for signs of growth. You should also watch for more symptoms that may appear and tell your doctor about them. At that point the oncologist can decide the correct direction for treatment.
6. Prostate Cancer is More Common in Some Races
For reasons that researchers are not sure of as of yet, African American men are 60% more likely to develop prostate cancer than white men. Additionally, it is even less present among Latino and Asian men. Because of this, African American men should begin watching for prostate cancer earlier than other races.
7. Lifestyle May Affect Risk of Developing Prostate Cancer
A sedentary (inactive) lifestyle can increase the chance of cancerous prostate cells. Diet can also be a risk factor and eating healthy foods may decrease the likelihood of most types of cancer.
Though prostate cancer treatment has advanced and the recovery rate is very high, men must be aware of potential warning signs. Family history, race, lifestyle, and age are all factors that can increase a person’s risk for prostate cancer.
Remember to get regular checkups by your physician and don’t shy away from prostate cancer screening once you have reached the age. It’s worth the time and effort of the short exam!
Arizona Oncology has offices located throughout the state, where you will receive state-of-the art prostate cancer treatment in a caring and comfortable environment close to home, work, and family. Our team of physicians and cancer care specialists are ready to help you every step of the way.