September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, and it’s easy to see why awareness is needed. Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in American men. The American Cancer Society estimates that almost 200,000 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed and over 30,000 men will die from prostate cancer in 2020. Many cancers are caught early through prostate cancer screening, allowing for treatment and improved outcomes. More than three million men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer are still alive today.

5 Symptoms of Prostate Cancer

Early prostate cancer is usually asymptomatic. More advanced prostate cancers sometimes cause symptoms, like:

  1. Problems urinating. This can show up as a slow or weak urinary stream or needing to urinate more often, especially at night.
  2. Hematuria or hematospermia. Blood in the urine (hematuria) or semen (hematospermia) can indicate prostate cancer.
  3. Erectile dysfunction (ED). Advanced prostate cancer can cause difficulties in achieving and maintaining erection.
  4. Pain in the bones. This includes the hips, back (spine), chest (ribs), or other places the cancer has spread.
  5. Weakness or numbness in the legs or feet. This could also cause loss of bladder or bowel control, resulting from cancer pressing on the spinal cord.

These issues are more likely caused by a condition other than prostate cancer. For example, trouble urinating is often caused by an enlarged prostate, or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to tell your urologist so they can find the cause and treat it. Your urologist may suggest prostate cancer screening.

Prostate Cancer Screening

Thankfully, most prostate cancers are found early through screening. Prostate cancer screening is a two-part process.

First is the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA). PSA is a protein made by cancerous and normal cells in the prostate gland. During the PSA test, blood is drawn from the arm and analyzed in a lab to see the level of PSA. Higher levels of PSA indicate prostate cancer, but PSA levels can be elevated due to other conditions.

Second is the digital rectal exam (DRE). During a DRE, a urologist inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to check the prostate for abnormalities, bumps, and hard spots that could indicate cancer. Though it may be uncomfortable, a DRE isn’t painful and lasts only seconds.

Each part of the prostate cancer screening provides important information. Both tests are necessary to provide a complete view of your health to your urologist.

Screening Guidelines

Comprehensive Urologic Care recommends the following screening guidelines:

Age

Screening Recommendation

Under 40 Not recommended.
40 – 49 Recommended at least once in your forties to determine baseline. Frequency determined by your doctor based on your results and risk factors.
50 – 69 Recommended yearly unless your doctor suggests a different frequency.
70+ Recommended for men with more than 10 years of life expectancy. Frequency determined by your doctor. Not recommended for men with less than 10 years of life expectancy

When to See Your Urologist

If you have any of the five symptoms above or you’re due for a prostate cancer screening, schedule an appointment today.

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