We’ve Got to Know, Do, and Learn

It’s a walnut-sized gland in a man’s reproductive system, and being small and out of the way, it gets zero attention as long as it’s quiet. In fact, many men say “prostrate” (lying down) when they mean prostate (the maker of seminal fluid for transporting sperm).

But the forgotten gland has the last laugh in many cases. About one in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime, and even that number understates the threat. Notice the words, “diagnosed” and “lifetime.” Many prostate cancer cases go undiagnosed, and it has been said by thoughtful, non-alarmist people that, “If a man lives long enough, he’s going to get prostate cancer.” That might be a slight overstatement, but it might not.

Prostate cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer death among American men. So, in September, we observe National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month to raise awareness of the importance of three things:

  • Easily accessible prostate cancer screenings
  • Education on the risk factors and symptoms
  • Advocating for further prostate cancer research

Easy Access to Screenings

It’s easy to get distracted when you look up recommendations for how often and at what age a man should get screened for prostate cancer. It begins at 40, 45, or 50, depending on your risk factors. So, finding out about those risk factors in a talk with your family physician is a step to take right away.

There is a blood test for PSA, a prostate-specific antigen that serves as a signal. When PSA is elevated it’s time to look more closely for cancer in the prostate.

The other common form of prostate exam is digital. In this case “digital” does not mean electronic, but rather a DRE – digital-rectal-exam. Okay, you might think you don’t know your physician that well. But you should. And besides, a little embarrassment is nothing to die over.

Learning the Risk Factors and Symptoms

A vast, underlying risk connected with prostate cancer is that there are many type, some slow growing, others aggressive and deadly. Finding out which kind you may have is vital, and as in all cancers, early detection is the greatest factor in survival.

As for personal risk factors, a poor diet low in vegetables, obesity and lack of exercise sound like “the usual suspects” connected with all kinds of health hazards. When it comes to the aggressive forms of prostate cancer, they appear again among the risk factors. But so, too, are being tall (we’re not kidding), high calcium intake, Agent Orange exposure, and, of course, family history. African-American men live with a higher risk of prostate cancer.

 More Research About Solutions

Research and training grants to fund finding out more about prostate cancer prevention and cure are available from a growing number of sources. The American Cancer Society currently offers 66 grants totaling $27 million for research and training.

As we say so often, awareness is the beginning of protecting yourself from prostate cancer. Just call us at 843-815-6468 or email info@globalfamilymed.com and let’s make an appointment for your screening.