PHILADELPHIA (September 3, 2019) – September is National Prostate Cancer Awareness month. In recognition, Fox Chase Cancer Center seeks to raise awareness about the symptoms and risk factors for the disease. The American Cancer Society (ACS) reports that other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men. In 2019, it estimates about 174,650 new cases and nearly 31,620 deaths from prostate cancer.
During his lifetime, about 1 in 9 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. The disease develops mainly in older men—age 66 is the average age of diagnosis—and in African-American men. The ACS notes that more than 2.9 million men in the U.S. who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in their lives are alive today. While prostate cancer can be very serious, most men do not die from the disease.
“It’s important for men to familiarize themselves with the symptoms and risk factors for prostate cancer,” said Alexander Kutikov, MD, FACS, Chief of the Division of Urologic Oncology at Fox Chase Cancer Center. “The disease can be successfully treated when detected early, typically when it is still within the prostate gland. However, some types are aggressive and can spread quickly. In these cases, there may be a lesser chance of successful treatment.”
The American Urological Association recommends that men ages 55-69 consider screening. “The issue of screening is complex. Because screening has its advantages and disadvantages, not every man should be screened for prostate cancer,” said Kutikov. “Men should discuss their risk factors, screening options and preferences with their healthcare provider before deciding whether to be screened.”
Prostate cancer may cause no symptoms in its early phases, and when signs show, they are non-specific and overlap with symptoms of other common and noncancerous genitourinary disorders, such as benign prostatic hyperplasia. “Regardless, you should tell your healthcare provider if you experience any signs so the cause can be found and treated,” said Kutikov.
- Trouble urinating, including a slow or weak urinary stream or the need to urinate more often, especially at night
- Blood in the urine
- Pain or burning during urination
A number of factors can affect a man’s risk for prostate cancer. It is important to note, however, that even if a man has one or more risk factors, it does not mean he will get the disease.
- Age: While prostate cancer is rare in men younger than 40, the chance of having prostate cancer rises quickly over age 50. About six out of every 10 prostate cancers are found in men over age 65.
- Race. African-American men are at greater risk than Caucasian men and more than twice as likely to die from the disease. Although the reasons are unclear, prostate cancer occurs less often in Asian-American and Hispanic/Latino men than in non-Hispanic whites.
- Family History of Prostate Cancer. The disease seems to run in some families, suggesting an inherited or genetic factor in some cases. However, most prostate cancers occurs in men without a family history of the disease. Having a father or brother with prostate cancer more than doubles a man’s risk of developing the disease. The risk is much higher for men with several affected relatives, particularly if their relatives were young when the cancer was found.
To learn more about cancer risk and resources, visit FoxChase.org. Fox Chase also offers a Risk Assessment Program for individuals and families concerned about their risk for certain types of cancer. To learn more about risk assessment for high-risk prostate cancer, visit FoxChase.org/RAP.