Prostate Cancer: The Preventable Killer
A man’s prostate is not exactly a subject anyone gets a thrill out of thinking or talking about. Read on anyway, because when it comes to a man’s prostate, a lack of information can be hazardous to his health. Caught early enough, there’s a better than 90 percent cure rate for prostate cancer.
First, medical facts 101
The prostate is a male reproductive system gland – ladies, you don’t have to worry - located in the front of the rectum and below the bladder. It weighs about an ounce and is the size and shape of a walnut. The prostate wraps around a tube called the urethra, which carries urine from the bladder out through the tip of the penis.
Though the prostate is just a tiny part of the male anatomy, it sure can cause trouble.
That’s the good news. The troubling news is that men over 50 are at highest risk for prostate cancer. More than eight in 10 diagnosed cases occur in men over age 65. Caught early enough, there’s a better-than 90 percent cure rate. However, once it spreads beyond the prostate, it’s almost impossible to treat.
The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates there will be 198,100 new cases this year, and about 31,500 men will die from it. That makes prostate cancer the second leading cause of death after lung cancer. And it’s about twice as common among African-American males as among white males.
Early detection is the key
Unfortunately, there are no early warning signs for prostate cancer. Consequently, the American Urological Association recommends annual rectal exams for men begining at age 40. The ACS recommends that men from age 50 have an annual digital exam and an annual prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test. If you’re an African-American or you have a father or brother who’s been diagnosed with it, the ACS recommends the blood test and exam beginning at age 45.
If cancer is diagnosed, treatment depends upon several factors – the tumor’s size and aggressiveness, how far the cancer has spread, the individual’s PSA level, overall medical condition and age.
Doctors say many men avoid seeing their physicians because they’ll need a rectal prostate exam. But putting it off can have deadly consequences - a result you can avoid by submitting to the minor discomfort of this procedure. For the sake of long-term good health and for those who love you, talk to your doctor about prostate cancer screening.