You are amongst many men if you are unsure of what prostate cancer is and the associated risks. According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in American men, behind only lung cancer. Approximately, 1 man in 36 will die of prostate cancer.
I’ve heard about it, but what exactly is the prostate and how does it function?
The prostate is a gland that is found only in males. Its job is to make some of the fluid that protects and nourishes sperm cells in semen, making the semen have a more liquid consistency. The prostate gland begins its growth during the infant stages of a boy’s life and continues until he reaches manhood. A healthy prostate is usually the size of a walnut.
Why should I get screened?
Many tests have benefits. The most important benefit that prostate cancer screening could have is detecting the cancer early on, in hopes that it could be treated more effectively. Screening for prostate cancer helps physicians detect abnormalities that could be associated with the cancer and determine what steps should be taken next.
What symptoms should I look for?
Unfortunately, there are no early signs that predict the onset of prostate cancer. Screening is imperative because it is the testing you receive when there are no symptoms. Prostate cancer is very common in men over the age of 65. Men of African American descent are also at a higher risk of developing prostate cancer as well. If you are over the age of 65, are African American or experience any of the following symptoms, you should contact your physician immediately:
- A frequent need to urinate, especially at night
- Difficulty starting or stopping a stream of urine
- A weak or interrupted urinary stream
- Leaking of urine when laughing or coughing
- Inability to urinate standing up
- A painful or burning sensation during urination or ejaculation
- Blood in urine or semen
How can prostate cancer be detected?
There are two common tests given that can diagnose prostate cancer early on. Your physician will decide which method of diagnostic testing is best for you. One form of testing is the prostate-specific antigen (PSA). This form of testing is a blood test that measures the level of PSA in the blood. Too much PSA is usually a red flag for irregularities and possibly prostate cancer. Another form of testing to diagnose prostate cancer is through a digital rectal exam (DRE). This form of testing involves examining the size of the prostate gland through physical examination.