Detect prostate cancer early: a screening could save your life
According to The American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men, next to skin cancer.
The prostate is a gland in the male reproductive system located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum. It is about the size of a walnut and surrounds part of the urethra (the tube that empties urine from the bladder). The prostate gland produces fluid that makes up part of semen.
While we do not know exactly what causes prostate cancer, we do know that risk factors include:
- Age 65+: more than 65% of prostate cancers are diagnosed in men aged 65 and older)
- Race: African-American men are 60% more likely to develop prostate cancer than Caucasian men
- Family history: having a relative with prostate cancer can increase your chances
While there are factors that affect your prostate health that you cannot change, like age, race and family history, you can maintain a healthy weight and diet. Eating a healthy, low fat, diet that is largely plant-based can help to lower the risk of prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer, particularly in its early stages, has no symptoms. Thankfully, there are effective screening options that can help detect prostate cancer early on.
Prostate cancer screenings
There are two types of tests available, a digital rectal exam (DRE) and a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. To perform a digital rectal exam, your doctor uses a gloved finger, inserted a few inches into the rectum to check the prostate gland. A prostate-specific antigen test is a blood test that measures the level of PSA in the blood - elevated levels of PSA could suggest prostate cancer, however, PSA can also be elevated for less serious causes, like prostate enlargement or infection. Because of this, additional testing may be needed with prostate-specific antigen tests in order to diagnose cancer.
Prostate cancer screenings can help to detect cancer early, which can help prevent the risk of spreading, and ultimately could save your life. Most prostate cancers are small, slow growing, and may not be fatal.
Ask your primary care physician about scheduling a prostate cancer screening.
If you’re a current patient, you may: