September is National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. Let’s take a look at the basics of prostate cancer, screening procedures to detect prostate cancer early on, and resources to help you or a loved one who is dealing with prostate cancer.
- Only men can get prostate cancer. The prostate is a walnut-sized organ located just underneath the bladder and in front of the rectum in men.
- What are possible symptoms of prostate cancer? FamilyDoctor.org provides a list of possible prostate cancer symptoms. Keep in mind that many of these symptoms can be caused by other conditions.
- How common is prostate cancer? Besides skin cancer, it is the most common type of cancer that affects American men.
- There are benefits and risks to being screened for prostate cancer. According to the CDC, the biggest benefit is that prostate cancer could be found early, potentially making treatment easier. The risks include dealing with a “false positive” test result, treating prostate cancer that may never affect your health, or dealing with the side effects from prostate cancer treatment.
- Who should be screened? The American Cancer Society recommends that at age 50, men who are at average risk of prostate cancer and who are expected to live at least ten more years discuss with their doctor whether or not they should be screened.
- Where can you get screened? Zero, The Project to End Prostate Cancer is offering free screenings at drives around the country. Click here to find the drive nearest you (or learn how to bring a drive to your community), and click here to find out what to expect at the drive. You can also get screened by your primary care physician or urologist.
- There are two types of tests most commonly used to screen for prostate cancer. A prostate specific antigen test (PSA) measures the level of PSA–created by the prostate–in the blood. Someone’s PSA level could be higher if he has cancer–but higher levels are also caused by other conditions such as an enlarged prostate or a prostate infection.
- The other commonly used test is a digital rectal exam (DRE). A doctor or nurse examines the size and shape of the prostate.
- What happens if test results are abnormal? Further testing will need to be done to determine if cancer is present.
- If you’re the patient… Zero, The Project to End Prostate Cancer published a good list of resources for concerns that you may be dealing with during your treatment.
- You are not alone. Check out this list of prostate cancer support groups that you can use to connect to others going through situations similar to yours.
- If your loved one has prostate cancer… Click here for resources and information to help you understand and cope with the situation.