One in every seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. But many men are not aware of their risk and don’t know which symptoms to look for. The Movember Foundation is out to change this, asking men to grow moustaches during November and use their facial hair as a conversation starter to talk about men’s health. Join Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group this Movember as we spread awareness about prostate cancer.
What is a prostate?
The prostate is a walnut-sized gland right below the bladder and in front of the bowels. Its job is to create a special fluid to nourish and protect sperm. Most men experience enlargement of the prostate as they age, which can cause urinary problems.
Who is at risk for prostate cancer?
While it’s possible for any man to be diagnosed with prostate cancer, some men are at a higher risk than others. The older you are, the higher your risk, especially for men over age 65. If you have a family history of prostate cancer, you also have a greater chance of having prostate cancer yourself. African-American men develop prostate cancer more frequently and at a younger age than men of other racial backgrounds. If you identify with one of these risk factors, talk to your doctor about prevention and screening.
What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?
Symptoms of prostate cancer include:
Difficulty starting urination
Weak or interrupted flow of urine
Frequent urination, especially at night
Difficulty emptying the bladder completely
Pain or burning during urination
Blood in the urine or semen
Pain in the back, hips, or pelvis that doesn’t go away
There are three different ways to test for prostate cancer:
The Digital Rectal Exam (DRE) involves a doctor inserting his or her gloved finger into the anus to feel the prostate. This allows the doctor to check for lumps or to tell if the prostate has grown larger.
The Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) Blood Test looks for a prostate-produced protein in the blood. Most men with prostate cancer have higher levels of this protein than a healthy man does. However, the PSA can produce false-positives and false-negatives, and there can be other reasons besides prostate cancer for increased amounts of PSA.
If a physician suspects a man has prostate cancer, he or she will order a biopsy to confirm. The biopsy involves a small surgery and the removal of a tiny part of the prostate for cancer testing.
Should I be screened?
You should discuss your risk factors with your doctor to see if screening is right for you. The American Cancer Society advises you talk about screening for prostate cancer with your healthcare provider starting at age 50 if you’re at average risk. If you have a higher risk, begin discussing your options earlier.