GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - September is Prostate Cancer Awareness month.
Prostate cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in American men.
Dr. Peter Sershon, a urologist, surgeon and the director of the Prostate Cancer Center at Allina Health's United Hospital in St. Paul, joined KARE 11 News at 4 to talk about symptoms and treatment options.
Sershon says the older you are, the more likely you are to be diagnosed with prostate cancer. Although only 1 in 10,000 men under age 40 will be diagnosed, the rate shoots up to 1 in 38 for ages 40 to 59, and 1 in 14 for ages 60 to 69.
African American men have a significantly higher risk, both of developing and dying from prostate cancer.
Q. What are some of the symptoms of prostate cancer?
A. If prostate cancer is localized - meaning it has not spread to nearby tissue or organs - it is common for a person to have no symptoms. This is why prostate cancer is often found only during a routine screening. If the cancer has spread, however, or the tumor is large, symptoms can include:
- frequent urination (especially at night)
- weak or interrupted flow
- inability to urinate or difficulty starting
- pain or burning sensation when urinating
- blood in the urine
- persistent pain in lower back, hips, or thighs (bone pain)
Q. How deadly is prostate cancer?
A. Prostate cancer found still contained within the prostate gland has a 99 percent survival rate. However, once prostate cancer begins to spread outside of the prostate, it is dangerous. This aggressive type of prostate cancer can occur at any age and is more difficult to treat.
Q. Once prostate cancer is found, what are the treatment options?
A. Depending on the nature of the cancer, there are a wide range of treatment options.
- Active Surveillance (Watchful Waiting)
- Radiation Therapy
- Hormone Therapy
- Metastatic Disease
Q. There's been some controversy in recent years about when and how often men should be tested for prostate cancer. Why is that and where do you come down on this issue?
A. Two years ago the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommended against PSA screening in healthy men finding that the potential risks outweigh the potential benefits.
Sershon says the benefits outweigh the risks. A cancer cannot be treated if it is not detected. Not all prostate cancers require immediate treatment; active surveillance, in lieu of immediate treatment, is an option that should be considered for some men. Testing empowers patients and their urologists with the information to make an informed decision.
Q. Are there things men can do to reduce their risk of getting prostate cancer?
A. Consider this: the risk of developing prostate cancer for men who live in rural China is 2 percent and for men in the United States 17 percent. That tells us that lifestyle issues are at play. And in the U.S., the incidence of prostate cancer increases the farther north you go due to inadequate sunlight during three months of the year which reduces vitamin D levels.
Sershon suggests to eat less fat, get more exercise, don't smoke, eat more fish for the omega-3 fatty acids, get enough Vitamin D, and drink alcohol only in moderation.
But if you are age 50 or over, if you are age 40 or over and African-American or have a family history of prostate cancer, you need more than a good diet. You should consider a yearly rectal examination and PSA test, and you should discuss the risks and benefits of these screening procedures with your doctor.
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