LOS ANGELESSeptember is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer found in American men other than skin cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be 220,900 new cases of prostate cancer in the United States this year, and 28,900 men will die from the disease. Fortunately, the death rate for prostate cancer is going down and early detection is on the rise.
Timothy Wilson, M.D., director of Urology at City of Hope Cancer Center in Los Angeles, emphasizes that prevention and early detection can reduce the risk of prostate cancer and improve treatment outcomes for those who are diagnosed with the disease.
The exact cause of prostate cancer is unknown, but risk of its development is associated with age, family history, race, environmental exposure, and certain nutritional deficiencies, says Dr. Wilson. Prostate cancer is often called a silent disease because it frequently develops without obvious symptoms.
When symptoms are present, they may include some of the following:
n a weak flow of urine
n frequent or painful urination
n blood in the urine or semen
n pain in the lower back, pelvis, or upper thighs.
Dr. Wilson recommends that all men older than age 50 visit their physician for a yearly exam. This exam should include:
n a discussion about risk factors and possible symptoms
n a digital rectal examination (DRE) to detect irregularities of the prostate
n a prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test.
Men who are at high risk for prostate cancerespecially African-Americans or men who have close family members with prostate cancershould consider beginning these tests at an earlier age.
Prevention is the best way to reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Men should take proactive measures to live free of the disease. Dr. Wilson suggests the following:
n eat a balanced diet, high in fruits and vegetables and low in fat;
n watch your weight, and exercise daily;
n limit alcohol consumption;
n know the risk factors and be aware of changes in your body;
n see a physician for a yearly exam.
For more information about prostate cancer research and treatment at City of Hope Cancer Center, call 1-800-826-HOPE or visit www.cityofhope.org.