Know the risks, symptoms
• Age: The incidence of prostate cancer increases with age. Nearly 65 percent of all prostate cancers are diagnosed in men over age 65.
• Race: African-American men have one of the highest prostate cancer incidence rates in the world; they are twice as likely to die from the disease as Caucasian men.
• Family history: Men with close family members (father or brother) who have had prostate cancer are more likely to get it themselves, especially if their relatives were young when they got the disease.
• Diet: Men who eat high-fat diets, particularly animal fat, may have a greater chance of developing prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer can be unsymptomatic for years, as most cases of early prostate cancer cause no symptoms. Men should talk with their doctors if they have questions or are experiencing any of these symptoms:
• Frequent urination
• Inability to urinate, or difficulty starting or holding back urination
• Weak or interrupted urine flow
• Blood in urine
• Pain or burning while urinating
• Frequent pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips or upper thighs
For men at both average and high risk, information should be provided about what is known and uncertain about the benefits and limitations of early detection and treatment of prostate cancer, so they can make an informed decision about testing.
• The prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test and the digital rectal exam (DRE) are commonly used methods to detect prostate cancer, and should be offered annually beginning at age 50. Both are recommended by the American Cancer Society for men who choose to be tested, or have a life expectancy of at least 10 years.
• Men at high risk (African-American men and men with a strong family history of one or more first-degree relatives) should be tested at age 45.
• The PSA blood test measures a substance made by the prostate called prostate-specific antigen - the higher the level, the more likely cancer is present.
• DRE involves inserting a rubber-gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to feel for lumps or enlargement of the prostate.
• Early detection may prove beneficial for some. Ninety percent of all prostate cancers are discovered in the local and regional stages; the five-year survival rate for patients whose cancers are diagnosed at these stages is nearly 100 percent.
• Over the past 25 years, the survival rate for all stages combined has increased from 69 to 99 percent. It is not entirely clear how much of this change is due to early detection and how much to improved therapies. According to the most recent data, 91 percent of men diagnosed with prostate cancer survive 10 years, and 76 percent survive 15 years or more.
For more information, visit www.cancer.org. If you or a family member are diagnosed or need screening information, call (800) ACS-2345.
- Source: American Cancer Society, 2008