September is National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month
In honor of National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, we are sharing information on how you can spread awareness and support loved ones with prostate cancer — a disease that affects approximately 1 in 9 men in the United States.
Second to skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer found in men, which is why it is important to educate the public and raise awareness of this prevalent disease. As is the case with most diseases, prevention is the best cure — and this begins by knowing the facts! Keep reading to learn all about common symptoms and screening tests for prostate cancer, as well as ways you can celebrate Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.
Common Prostate Cancer Symptoms
The prostate is a small, walnut-sized gland situated between the bladder and rectum. It is responsible for producing some of the ejaculatory fluid that’s found in semen, making it an important part of the male reproductive system. When prostate cells begin to divide and grow out of control, they become cancerous — and prostate cancer occurs.
Many patients ask, “What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?” In many cases, there are no signs or symptoms at all, making prostate cancer difficult to catch in the early stages. This is why a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test, digital rectal exam (DRE), or transrectal ultrasound (TRUS) are all important to screen for prostate cancer.
In more advanced cases, however, some common symptoms may include:
- Difficulty urinating or a complete inability to urinate
- Pain or burning sensation while urinating
- Blood in the urine or semen
- Abdominal, pelvic, hip, or back pain
- Loss of appetite and weight
Getting Screened for Prostate Cancer
Although there is no set age for when a man should begin prostate cancer screening, it is imperative that men have their prostates regularly examined. Because prostate cancer is often asymptomatic during the early stages, regular health screenings are key to catching the disease as soon as possible.
Your risk of developing prostate cancer increases as you age. Studies show that while only 1 in 10,000 men under the age of 40 will develop prostate cancer, approximately 6 in 10 cases are found in men 65 and older. Therefore, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines recommend discussing the risks and benefits of screening for men between the ages of 45 and 75. Here’s what you can expect during a prostate exam or PSA test.
Step 1: Prostate Exam
The first step in the screening process is a digital rectal exam, which is used to check your prostate for any abnormalities. During the exam, your urologist will insert a gloved finger into the rectum and feel for any hard, lumpy, or abnormal areas. Although you may feel slight discomfort during this process, the test only takes a few minutes to complete. If your doctor detects any suspicious areas during the exam, they will move forward with further testing.
Step 2: PSA Test
The next step in the screening process is to conduct a PSA blood test. PSA is a protein produced by the prostate gland, regardless of whether or not you have prostate cancer. Typically, very little PSA is found in the bloodstream. However, PSA levels are elevated in men with prostate cancer. If your PSA levels are higher than the recommended amount, a prostate biopsy may be necessary to further test for cancer.
4 Ways to Celebrate Prostate Cancer Awareness Month
There are multiple ways to show your support during Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. Here are four ways to celebrate and help spread awareness of prostate cancer — not only this month, but year-round as well!
1. Wear a blue ribbon or wristband
Prostate Cancer Awareness Month is represented by the color light blue. Wearing a blue ribbon or wristband throughout the month is a simple way to show your support and help spread awareness of the cause. There’s a good chance someone will ask what your ribbon represents — and when they do, you can take the opportunity to educate them on prostate cancer and the importance of getting screened. It’s a win-win!
2. Spread awareness
Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer in America. However, despite how common this disease is, prostate cancer is often overlooked and misunderstood. Now that you understand more about this disease, it is important to do what you can to spread prostate cancer awareness. One of the best ways to do this is to encourage your friends and loved ones to get screened for prostate cancer. After all, sharing is caring — and that’s what Prostate Awareness Month is all about!
3. Get screened for prostate cancer
Prostate cancer is a slow-growing disease that is very treatable when caught early. Fortunately, because of the various screening options that are available, prostate cancer is often caught before it spreads. One of the best ways to celebrate National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month is to be proactive and get tested before it’s too late.
4. Donate to the Prostate Cancer Foundation
Nearly 3 million men in the United States are living with prostate cancer. The Prostate Cancer Foundation is dedicated to funding research that improves the prevention, detection, and treatment of prostate cancer. Consider donating to this organization to help them discover better treatment options and find a cure for prostate cancer once and for all!
Treating Prostate Cancer With The Urology Specialists
If you would like to get screened for prostate cancer or suspect that you are experiencing any related symptoms, please make an appointment at one of our locations. We will be happy to speak with you about potential risk factors or screening options — and, of course, answer any of your questions about prostate cancer.
To learn even more about prostate cancer, download our Living With Prostate Cancer Guide. Throughout this guide, we cover symptoms, risk factors, and treatment options, as well as how prostate cancer impacts daily life. Click the button below to gain access to your free copy!
This content was originally published in September 2017 and was refreshed in September 2021.