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It's Time to Speak Up About Prostate Health

By Stephen Brassell, MD, Health and Wellness
September 1, 2015

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. Here are some important tips that can help reduce the risk for prostate cancer.

When it comes to discussing prostate cancer, many people get nervous. It is viewed as a personal, private disease, too often discussed in hushed tones. 

This lack of open discussion limits awareness and education about the disease, but Prostate Cancer Awareness Month provides an opportunity to share information with men (and women) about prostate cancer statistics, symptoms, prevention, and early detection. Let’s make it our resolution this month to bring prostate cancer to the forefront.

This year, an estimated 233,000 men in the United States will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and an estimated 29,480 will die from the disease. With early detection and treatment, however, it does not have to be fatal. The relative five-year survival rate is almost 100 percent, and more than 2.5 million men in the United States are prostate cancer survivors.

Men, here’s what you need to know to reduce your risk for prostate cancer:

  1. Most prostate cancer is diagnosed in men between the ages of 55 and 70. At 55, start talking with your healthcare professional about the pros and cons of getting tested. Early detection and treatment can be integral to saving lives. There are many ways to detect prostate cancer, and most start with a simple blood test.
  2. African American men and Caribbean men of African ancestry are at higher risk. African American men are also more likely to be diagnosed at an advanced stage, and more than twice as likely to die from the disease as white men. Discussion about screening should start at age 50.
  3. Men with a family history of prostate cancer are also at higher risk. Your family history of cancer should be an ongoing discussion, as it plays a large role in what you need to be doing to reduce your risk. If you have a close relative (father or brother) who had prostate cancer before age 65, start talking to your doctor about prostate cancer when you are 50. If more than one of your close male relatives had prostate cancer before 65, start that talk when you turn 45.
  4. Know the symptoms. Urinary problems, erectile issues, or pain in the lower back, pelvis, or upper thighs are all potential symptoms of prostate cancer. If you are experiencing any of these, talk to your doctor.
Having a doctor that you feel comfortable with is key to preventing cancer of any kind. Partners should encourage the men in their lives to develop a trusting relationship with a medical professional, and seek the information that could save their lives. Special note for women: Prostate cancer may not directly affect you, but you can play a role in preventing it by educating the men in your life about ways to reduce their risk. 

Let’s all make a pact to promote prostate cancer prevention and early detection this month, and a healthy lifestyle moving forward.

Learn more about prostate health at a free community seminar:

6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 30
St. Luke’s Meridian
Lemhi-Blackfoot meeting rooms
520 S. Eagle Road
Call (208) 381-9000 to register.

About The Author

Stephen Brassell, MD is a urologic oncologist with St. Luke’s Mountain States Tumor Institute.

Related Specialty

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Urologic Oncology

Advanced treatment of cancers affecting the urinary tract, bladder, kidneys, and male reproductive organs.