It may seem like a real no-brainer: Shouldn’t every man be screened for prostate cancer once they reach a certain age? The answer to that question isn’t as simple as you might think. If you ask five different organizations, you’ll likely get five different answers. As September unfolds and brings with it National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, Any Lab Test Now wants to take a stand. The key to taking control of your health is knowledge, and any important decision should be made with as much knowledge as you can gather.
Knowledge: the Facts
It’s a fact: other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men. The numbers for 2018 from the American Cancer Society are sobering:
- An estimated 164,690 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed.
- An estimated 29,430 men will die from prostate cancer.
- About 1 man in 41 will die of prostate cancer.
Those numbers can be frightening, but remember this: most men diagnosed with prostate cancer do not die from it. This is just part of the puzzle that makes this disease so confusing.
Knowledge: the Risks
Different cancers have different risk factors. Some of those risk factors can be changed while others cannot. Consider smoking as a risk factor for lung cancer — it’s easy. Just quit. But you can’t change your family history or your age and those are at the top of the list for known risk factors associated with prostate cancer. What to know:
- AGE – Prostate cancer is rare in men younger than 40, but the chances of developing the disease go up rapidly after the age of 50.
- FAMILY HISTORY – There appears to be a genetic factor. Having a father or a brother with prostate cancer more than doubles a man’s risk of developing the disease.
- RACE/ETHNICITY – African-American men are more likely to develop prostate cancer and are also twice as likely to die from it than white men. Researchers are not sure why.
- GEOGRAPHY – Prostate cancer is most common in North America, northwestern Europe, Australia, and on Caribbean islands. The reasons for this are not clear.
- POSSIBLE FACTORS – Diet, obesity, smoking, chemical exposures, inflammation of the prostate, sexually transmitted infections, and vasectomy have all been studied and may have a less clear link.
The thing to remember here is this: having a risk factor, or even several, does not mean that you will get the disease. Likewise, having none of the risk factors is no guarantee that you will not get the disease. What is important is that you know these risks and factor them into your decision.
Knowledge: the Symptoms
Risk factors aside, are there symptoms that you should be aware of that should send you straight to your doctor’s office? Well, like so many issues associated with prostate cancer, the answer is yes — and no. Early prostate cancer usually causes no symptoms. But more advanced prostate cancers can sometimes cause symptoms, such as:
- Problems urinating, including a slow or weak urinary stream. Also, the need to urinate more often, especially at night.
- Blood in your urine or semen.
- Trouble getting an erection.
- Pain in the hips, back or chest.
- Weakness or numbness in the legs or feet
Each and every one of these symptoms could be caused by something else! But it’s something you should be aware of and make sure your doctor is aware of as well.
Knowledge: Taking Control of Your Health
At your local Any Lab Test Now, we offer the Prostate Specific Antigen test. It is our belief that it is important to establish a PSA baseline so that you can monitor any changes over time. It’s a decision every man must make for himself, along with his loved ones and his physician. It’s a simple test — without a simple answer. Any Lab Test Now strives to provide you with the knowledge you need to find the answer for yourself.