September: Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

Here we are in the middle of September, which puts us in the midst of Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. For men, prostate cancer remains the second most common type of cancer. Only skin cancer is more prevalent.

One in every 9 American men will hear the diagnosis of prostate cancer in their lifetime. Fortunately, prostate cancer survival rates continue to be fairly high. About one man in 41 will die from this form of cancer. Prostate cancer is a slow growing cancer. Successful treatment outcomes are very possible (especially when cancers are detected early) with newer and more effective medications now available (e.g., Zytiga).

Prostate cancer is not spread evenly among various demographics. Certain men will have higher risk, including:

Age: As your age goes up, so does the risk of prostate cancer (especially after age 50).

Race: Prostate cancer is more common in African-American men.

Family history: If you have a close relative with prostate cancer (father, brother, or son), then you are at higher risk.

Obesity: A higher BMI (a measure of body fat) increases the risk of this disease.

For patients hearing a prostate cancer diagnosis, the American Cancer Society (ACS) offers some advice in navigating treatment options. The ACS suggests reviewing the following issues to help make a personalized treatment plan:

  • The stage and grade of the cancer
  • Age and expected life span of the patient
  • Any other serious health conditions of the patient
  • The feelings about the need to treat the cancer right away (since it is generally a slow-growing cancer)
  • The likelihood that treatment will cure the cancer (or help in some other way)
  • The patient’s feelings about the possible side effects from each treatment

And, finally, do remember that prostate cancer is one of the more survivable cancers. Most men who have had prostate cancer will not die from it. In fact, more than 3 million men in the United States who were diagnosed with this cancer are still alive today.