Prostate Cancer Risk Awareness Is Year-round Goal

Although September is designated National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, men should pay attention year-round to the key risk factors of this type of cancer, which will be diagnosed in roughly one in seven men during their lifetime. The good news is that most men with a prostate cancer diagnosis do not die from it, the American Cancer Society states, so being proactive about understanding your risk factors and when to get screened can greatly improve your odds of survival.

The American Cancer Society notes that researchers have identified certain risk factors associated with prostate cancer:

  • Age (your risk increases after age 50; the majority of cases are found in men over 65 years of age);
  • Race/ethnicity (risks are higher for African-American men);
  • Geography (prostate cancer is most common in North America, northeastern Europe, Australia and the Caribbean);
  • Family history (having a close male relative – a father or brother – with prostate cancer more than doubles your prostate cancer risk); and
  • Heredity (inherited gene mutations -- BRCA1 or BRCA2 -- may increase prostate cancer risk in certain men, and men with Lynch syndrome (a type of colorectal cancer) may have an increased risk of prostate cancer).

Other, less clear risk factors may include diet, obesity, smoking, chemical exposure (largely specific to firefighters), inflammation of the prostate, sexually transmitted infections and vasectomy.

Prostate cancer screening is recommended for men beginning at age 50, but African-American men and men with a first-degree relative who has or had the disease should talk to their physicians at age 45 about when to screen. The screening involves a blood test for prostate-specific antigen (PSA) to measure the level of the PSA protein, and may include a digital rectal exam, which checks the health of the prostate gland and can identify benign prostatic hyperplasia (an enlarged prostate).

There are no warning signs for early-stage prostate cancer – which is why screening is so important. Advanced-stage prostate cancer may present with the following symptoms: problems urinating, blood in the urine or semen, trouble getting an erection, pain in the hips/back/spine/chest, and/or weakness or numbness in the legs or feet.

Saint Francis Healthcare and Dr. Chiusano will offer free prostate cancer screenings (PSA and DRE) to under or uninsured men on Monday, September 25, 2017, from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Screenings will be held at Saint Francis Hospital (701 N. Clayton Street, Wilmington, DE, 19805) in the Outpatient Lab on the 3rd floor of the Medical Office Building (MOB). For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 302.421.4883.

Categories: Blog, Cancer Care Services