10 facts you should know about prostate cancer
September is National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. The designation is intended to increase public understanding of the disease, including its prevalence, screening and prevention, treatment options, and resources for men and their families affected by the disease.
To acknowledge National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, we are sharing 10 facts that you should know if you are a loved one are at risk of the disease.
- Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men (other than skin cancer).
- About 1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime.
- Prostate cancer occurs mainly in older men. About 6 cases in 10 are diagnosed in men aged 65 or older.
- Many medical organizations suggest men consider prostate cancer screening at 50, or sooner for men who have risk factors.
- Risk factors for prostate cancer include: • Older age—most cases are diagnosed in men older than 65. • Being black—it’s not clear why, but black men have a greater risk than men of other races. • Family history—if men in your family have had prostate cancer, your risk may be increased. • Obesity—obese men diagnosed with prostate cancer may be more likely to have advanced disease.
- Screening for prostate cancer is performed by a blood test to measure prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and/or a digital rectal exam (DRE). Above average PSA levels do not diagnose the disease, but indicate an increased chance of having prostate cancer. A DRE is a physical exam by a physician to feel for bumps or hard areas on the prostate that might be cancer.
- An actual diagnosis of prostate cancer can only be made with a biopsy of the prostate gland.
- After a diagnosis of prostate cancer, a pathologist will determine a Gleason score for the tumor. Gleason scores are between 2 and 10 with less aggressive cancers in the 2-4 range and most aggressive in the 7-10 range.
- There is no “one size fits all” therapy. There is a wide range of treatments depending on the Gleason score and tumor characteristics. Therapies include radiation, hormones, chemotherapy, prostatectomy, and others. In some cases, physicians recommend active surveillance, which means monitoring the tumor for signs of progression.
- It’s not clear what causes prostate cancer, except we know that it begins with DNA mutations in prostate cells.