September is national prostate cancer awareness month. Prostate cancer is the number two cancer among men behind skin cancer. Prostate is not necessarily a killer if detected early and can be successfully treated. About 2 million men nationwide are affected by prostate cancer. Out of 100,000 men surveyed prostate cancer incidences in Ohio were 95.2 to 130.1 in 2009. Deaths from prostate cancer in Ohio were 22.7 to 24.4. www.cdc.gov
“The prostate is a gland found only in males. It is located in front of the rectum and below the urinary bladder. The size of the prostate varies with age. In younger men, it is about the size of a walnut, but it can be much larger in older men. The prostate's job is to make some of the fluid that protects and nourishes sperm cells in semen, making the semen more liquid. Just behind the prostate are glands called seminal vesicles that make most of the fluid for semen.” www.cancer.org
In some instances, prostate cancer can remain dormant in the body for years. In fact, prostate cancer was found in older men’s body during an autopsy when they died of other causes according to an autopsy study. On the other hand, prostate cancer can spread quickly but generally the rate of growth is slow.
Some of the signs and symptoms of prostate cancer can be:
- Problems passing urine, including a slow or weak urinary stream or the need to urinate more often, especially at night.
- Blood in the urine (hematuria)
- Trouble getting an erection (impotence)
- Pain in the hips, back (spine), chest (ribs), or other areas from cancer spread to bones
- Weakness or numbness in the legs or feet, or even loss of bladder or bowel control from cancer pressing on the spinal cord. www.cancer.org
While these signs and symptoms can be associated with other conditions, it is important to get tested for prostate cancer. Medical providers recommend yearly screening. The annual screening consists of a PSA, prostate-specific antigen, blood test. Screening can also include a rectal exam. So while signs and symptoms can be an indication, the most reliable detection is from the PSA test. So get tested!