From Jeffrey Grass, MD, Radiation Oncologist

June 30, 2021

How concerned should men be about getting prostate cancer? Other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men. There are 3.1 million men alive with this diagnosis in the U.S. When diagnosed early, prostate cancer is usually treated very successfully. In fact, 99% of men with prostate cancer will live for at least five years after diagnosis, and many are cured with treatment. Men must be aware of risk factors and preventative measures, know their bodies, and discuss concerning symptoms with their doctors.

Prostate cancer is typically diagnosed in men over 50. Other risk factors include having a family history of breast, ovarian or prostate cancer, being African American, smoking, having a fatty diet, and being obese.

Symptoms of prostate cancer include painful or burning urination, difficulty urinating, the need to urinate frequently, blood in the urine or semen or erectile dysfunction. More advanced disease can cause bone pain or pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, pelvis or thighs, or pain or pressure in the rectum. Many benign prostate conditions mimic prostate cancer, which underscores the importance of screening.

Men should discuss the risks and benefits of screening with their healthcare providers. You can learn more about prostate cancer screening recommendations here: http://ohcare.com/service/screenings-for-cancer/. The most common screening tool is the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, which is a blood test that measures the presence of PSA in the bloodstream. PSA is a protein produced by prostate cells. Based on screening results, your physician may recommend a biopsy to obtain a tissue sample. If cancer cells are found, a pathologist will assign a Gleason score, or grade, indicating how aggressive the disease is.

Treatment depends upon the patient and the extent of the cancer. Common recommendations include active surveillance, surgery, radiation, and hormone therapy. My radiation oncology partners have had outstanding success providing excellent patient outcomes with CyberKnife technology. This form of therapy is a convenient nonsurgical procedure given over five outpatient visits that delivers highly pinpointed beams of radiation with laser-like accuracy to control or destroy the cancer.

There are several lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk of prostate cancer. Enjoy a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables with limited red meat and sugar-sweetened beverages. Cut back on dairy products and avoid highly processed food. Exercise and maintain a healthy weight. Remember, heart-healthy activities will also keep your prostate healthy.

During Men’s Health Month, my OHC colleagues and I cannot emphasize enough the importance of being aware of risk factors and knowing your body. Discussing concerns with your healthcare provider increases your chance for a positive outcome.

For more information on prostate cancer or to request a second opinion, visit ohcare.com or call 1-888-649-4800.

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