When September rolls around, people often think about the beginning of school and fall, but a select few may remember that September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer affects one in six men, with skin cancer being the leading cause of cancer-related death. As a preventative measure, men should get checked annually for prostate cancer. Fortunately, prostate cancer treatment is available and the cancer is curable if detected early.
When Should I Get Checked for Prostate Cancer?
An annual physical examination can help detect the symptoms of prostate cancer in men. It is suggested that all men age 50 and above have an annual prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test and a digital rectal exam (DRE). If your father or brother has prostate cancer, you may want to consider getting tested before the age of 50.
Listed below are the most common symptoms of prostate cancer. There are no specific warning signs or symptoms of early prostate cancer, which is why annual prostate screening is so important.
Symptoms of Prostate Cancer:
– Weak or interrupted flow or urine
– Urinating often (especially at night)
– Difficulty urinating or holding back urine
– Pain or burning when urinating
Other Symptoms of Prostate Cancer:
– Blood in the urine or semen
– Pain in the back, hips or pelvis
– Difficulty having an erection
Remember, the symptoms of prostate cancer may resemble other conditions or medical problems, so consult your physician for a diagnosis. Your physician will also be able to answer any questions about prostate cancer and discuss prostate cancer treatment options.
Why You Should Get Tested for Prostate Cancer Annually:
The majority of men diagnosed with prostate cancer had no symptoms when prostate cancer was first detected. An annual PSA blood test can detect prostate cancer quickly. Even if your PSA levels are normal (e.g., below 4) an increase in your PSA levels can help detect prostate cancer in its early stages.
What Is a PSA Test?
A PSA test is a blood test that detects the amount of prostate-specific antigens (a protein) in the blood. As the prostate enlarges, more of this protein is produced and the increase is detected by the test. During a PSA test, a nurse or doctor takes a sample of blood from your arm and sends it to a lab for analysis. After the test, you will receive a copy of the results with your PSA levels.
A high PSA level may indicate prostate cancer. However, any activity that irritates the prostate may also cause PSA levels to rise.
Causes of an Elevated PSA:
– Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), an enlarged prostate
– Prostatis, a condition where the prostate becomes inflamed due to an infection
– A Prostate Biopsy
– Recent Ejaculation
– Bicycle Riding
Information about PSA:
– According to the American Cancer Society, a PSA level between 4 and 10 may indicate prostate cancer. If this is the case, prostate cancer surgery and radiation are treatment options.
– PSA is measured by nanograms per millimeter of blood.
– PSA is released into the blood by the prostate gland.
– PSA is common in semen.
The most common symptoms of prostate cancer are urinary problems, which include the need to urinate often, trouble urinating and the decreased force in the stream of urine. Other indicators include blood in the urine or in semen as well as frequent pain in the lower back and hips. However, the best way to detect prostate cancer early is by getting an annual PSA test.
Prostate cancer affects more than 186,000 American men each year. Remember the importance of having your doctor check for prostate cancer before you develop any symptoms. If you have any concerns or questions, talk to your doctor. Men diagnosed with prostate cancer have many treatment options, and the sooner you get treated, the sooner you can recover.