September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, a time to increase people's knowledge about this deadly disease that currently affects over 3.1 million American men. It's also a time to come together for the ZERO Prostate Cancer Runs/Walks that are held around the country to raise critical dollars for research, education, and patient/caregiver support.
In an effort to increase awareness, we're sharing 17 interesting facts about prostate cancer (and the prostate gland) below.
- The prostate is a walnut-sized gland located beneath the bladder in men. It is an important part of a man's reproductive health—the prostate's main function is producing fluids that help protect and nourish sperm. [Source: GBU blog post]
- A man's prostate might change as he ages, often becoming larger. But an enlarged prostate doesn't necessarily indicate the presence of prostate cancer. Benign causes for an enlarged prostate include benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH. [Source: GBU blog post]
- According to recent data, 12.5 percent of men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime. [Source: Cancer.gov]
- Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in American men (with skin cancer being the most common). [Source: American Cancer Society]
- Today, over 3.1 million American men are living with the disease, and one in eight American men will receive a prostate cancer diagnosis in their lifetime. [Source: ZERO Prostate Cancer]
- While all men are at risk of developing prostate cancer, it is rare in men under 40. The chance of having prostate cancer rises rapidly after 50, however. About 6 in 10 cases are found in men over age 65. [Source: American Cancer Society]
- Prostate cancer risk factors include age, family history, diet, and/or whether you're African-American. As mentioned earlier, men over 50 are at greater risk. Men whose fathers and/or brothers have been diagnosed with prostate cancer are at greater risk. Men who consume large amounts of fat are at higher risk. And African-American men are at greater risk (and might be at greater risk for developing the disease at a younger age). Not all risk factors' causes are clear, however. [Source: ZERO Prostate Cancer]
- Having a father or brother with prostate cancer more than doubles a man’s risk of developing this disease. [Source: American Cancer Society]
- If a man has the BRCA gene mutation, he is at a higher risk for developing prostate cancer. [Source: GBU blog post]
- Early detection saves lives—almost 100 percent of men diagnosed with prostate cancer today will be alive in five years. [Source: ZERO Prostate Cancer]
- The American Urologic Association (AUA) Guidelines support screening in men between the ages of 55-69 and earlier than age 55 for men who are known to be at increased risk for prostate cancer. This includes men with a family history of prostate cancer and African American men who should be screened as early as age 40. Some men over age 70 may benefit from prostate cancer screening if they are in excellent health with a life expectancy of more than 10 years. These men should discuss testing with their physician. [Source: AUA]
- There are usually no symptoms during the early stages of prostate cancer. In fact, most patients learn they have prostate cancer through routine screening: a digital rectal exam (DRE) and a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, which is a blood test. [Source: GBU blog post]
- When prostate cancer symptoms present, they can be similar to other things, like prostatitis, BPH, or overactive bladder. This is why it's always important to discuss changes in your body with your physician. [Source: City of Hope]
- While it has not been definitively proven that lycopene reduces risk of prostate cancer, low intake of lycopene has been associated with prostate cancer as well as other cancers. Lycopene is a naturally occurring antioxidant that gives certain foods their red, pink, orange, and yellow coloring—think tomatoes, watermelon, and red peppers, as a few examples. [GBU blog post]
- Not all prostate cancer requires treatment. Active surveillance—aka "watchful waiting"—can be an option for low-risk cancer that isn't likely to grow to the point a person needs treatment in their lifetime. [Source: City of Hope]
- For prostate cancers that require treatment, a range of options exist, including (but not limited to) surgery, radiation, high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU), cryotherapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and immunotherapy. [Source: GBU website]
- Two Netflix originals have raised awareness about prostate cancer (and men's health in general) as part of their story lines: Grace & Frankie and The Kominsky Method. [Source: GBU blog post]
If you're experiencing prostate symptoms that are concerning you, make an appointment with a urologist from Greater Boston Urology. Let us help!