Nine Things to Know About Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is among the most common cancers for American men, but it’s one that’s often misunderstood. However, we’ve learned so much more about prostate cancer in recent years, and screenings and treatments have gotten more accurate and effective. Keeping up with this information and these advancements can be the key to protecting yourself and your loved ones.
Increase your prostate cancer awareness with these nine facts:
1. Prostate cancer is the second-most common cancer for American men, behind skin cancer.
2. Early detection is key.
3. All men don’t need to be screened for prostate cancer.
4. Risk factors for prostate cancer include age, race and family history.
5. Symptoms of prostate cancer may not appear until advanced stages.
6. Transgender women should understand their risk for prostate cancer.
7. Recent advancements in treatments are improving prostate cancer outcomes.
8. Prostate cancer survivors include some well-known names.
9. AnMed Health is on the cutting-edge of treatment for prostate cancer.
1. Prostate cancer is the second-most common cancer for American men
Only skin cancer is more common for American men than prostate cancer. About 1 in 8 men will receive a prostate cancer diagnosis during their lifetimes. For Black men, the rate is 1 in 7. This year alone, nearly 250,000 American men will receive a new diagnosis of prostate cancer.
2. Early detection is key
Nearly 90% of prostate cancer cases are diagnosed early, when the cancer is restricted to the prostate gland or nearby organs. At these stages, the five-year survival rate is nearly 100%.
At advanced stages, however, prostate cancer can spread or grow quickly. After lung cancer, prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in American men, and the American Cancer Society estimates that about 34,000 American men will likely die from prostate cancer in 2021.
Learn more about the stages of prostate cancer.
3. All men don’t need to be screened for prostate cancer
It may come as a surprise, but not all men need to get a screening for prostate cancer. Whether you do – and at what age you do – depends on a few factors. If you have a higher risk of prostate cancer (see #4) or experience symptoms (see #5), you should begin to talk to your doctor about screenings at age 40. If you don’t have higher risk, talk to your doctor about screenings starting at age 50.
The American Cancer Society suggests that men should discuss the risks and benefits of screenings with their doctors.
4. Risk factors for prostate cancer include age, race, and family history
Most diagnoses of prostate cancer occur to people who are older than 65, and aggressive forms of the disease are extremely rare in those who are younger than 40. Black patients are more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer and twice as likely to die of it than white patients. Men who’ve had a father, son or brother who was diagnosed with prostate cancer at an age younger than 65 also have a higher risk for the disease.
5. Symptoms of prostate cancer may not appear until advanced stages
Many people who are in the early stages of prostate cancer don’t experience symptoms at all. For those who do experience symptoms, they include difficulty urinating, blood in the urine or semen, unintended weight loss, and erectile dysfunction. Because early detection is the key to effective management of prostate cancer, it’s important that those who experience these symptoms – in addition to those who have risk factors – talk to their doctors about appropriate screening measures.
6. Transgender women should understand their risk for prostate cancer
Transgender women can be diagnosed with prostate cancer, although the risk varies. The risk of prostate cancer is low for transgender women who’ve had gender-affirming surgery or who are on hormone therapy. For transgender women who haven’t been on hormone therapy, the risks are equivalent to that of a cisgender man.
Even if your risk is low or you aren’t experiencing symptoms, talk with your doctor about your level of risk and if you should have a screening. Also, you can find additional transgender health resources through GLMA.
7. Recent advancements in treatments are improving prostate cancer outcomes
Exciting advancements offer even more hope to people with prostate cancer. Improvements in screening and treatments decreased the death rate by half from the 1990s to mid-2010s.
Even more recently, new treatments, screenings and research offer patients even greater options. Hormone therapies are now approved to treat advanced or metastatic prostate cancers. Immunotherapies – both vaccines and checkpoint inhibitors – are showing promise for certain forms of prostate cancer, too. New biopsies using MRI and ultrasound offer more accurate screenings, and they’re better at differentiating aggressive prostate cancer from low-grade tumors that aren’t likely to become problematic. And clinical trials continue to offer patients access to cutting-edge treatments that create big promise.
8. Prostate cancer survivors include some well-known names
Survivors of prostate cancer include John Kerry, Harry Belafonte, Robert DeNiro, Ian McKellen, Mandy Patinkin and Colin Powell. The golfer Arnold Palmer – who died of heart disease in 2016 – also became an advocate for prostate cancer awareness after he was diagnosed in 1997. Palmer even was a founder of the Arnold Palmer Prostate Center, a non-profit cancer center within Eisenhower Medical Center in Palm Springs, California.
9. AnMed Health is on the cutting-edge of treatment for prostate cancer
AnMed Health is among the first hospitals to use the SpaceOAR System, a cutting-edge tool that offers patients protection during radiation treatments. Because the prostate is close to the rectum, some radiation treatments may cause damage to the rectum, called “rectal toxicity.” With SpaceOAR, a quick, pain-free procedure can protect the rectum. In addition, AnMed Health’s state-of-the-art cancer facility has earned Accreditation with Commendation from the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons.
To learn more about cancer care at AnMed Health, visit our Prostate Cancer Care page.