Movember: Celebrate Prostate Health with No-Shave November
One of the most important health issues facing men is prostate cancer, the second most common cancer in men and the second leading cause of cancer death in men. Every November men grow mustaches for Movember or join in No-Shave November to increase awareness of prostate cancer. Take charge of your health this month, and read on to learn all about prostate cancer.
The Facts About Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer affects many men every year, although specific groups of men are much more likely to be diagnosed:
- Nearly 175,000 prostate cancer diagnoses occur each year in in the U.S.
- Around two-thirds of prostate cancer diagnoses occur to men over 65.
- The average age of diagnosis is 66.
- Prostate cancer rarely occurs to men under 40.
- Black men are 60 percent more likely to get prostate cancer than white men.
The statistics around prostate cancer aren't entirely discouraging. It has one of the best outlooks of any cancer diagnosis:
- 90 percent of prostate cancers are found in the local or regional stages.
- The 5-year survival rate of men with local or regional prostate cancers is nearly 100 percent.
- The 5-year survival rate of men with prostate cancer that has spread to other parts of the body is 30 percent.
- The death rate of prostate cancer has dropped by over half in the past 25 years.
- One man in 9 will get prostate cancer, but only one in 39 will die of it.
- Risk increases with age, but the disease becomes less aggressive as well.
Risk Factors and Prevention
Most risk factors for prostate cancer are uncontrollable: age, race, and family history play a large part in developing it. Older men are much more susceptible to it; in fact, by age 80 about 80% of men have cancer cells in their prostate. Men who have a father or brother who have had prostate cancer as twice as likely to develop it. And black men in America have a higher chance of developing it than white men, while Hispanic men have a lower chance than either of these two groups.
That's not to say that environmental factors are not involved. Studies suggest that poor dietary habits and lack of exercise play a part in the development of prostate cancer. Although no conclusive link has been proven, prostate cancer rates increase in countries where meat and dairy products are major dietary components, and have also shown an increase in urbanized areas of countries with typically low rates.
Doctors suggest the following changes to decrease your general cancer risk:
- Heathy diet: avoiding high-fat foods and eating more fruits, vegetables, and legumes.
- Weight loss: obesity is linked to many types of cancer.
- Increased exercise: 2 1/2 hours of moderate exercise weekly.
- Avoid or quit smoking.
Signs and Screening
The most important thing you can do to protect yourself against prostate cancer is getting properly screened. You should start discussing screening options with your doctor at age 40. Most doctors suggest beginning yearly screening at age 50, or age 45 for black men.
There are two major types of prostate cancer screening:
- Digital rectal exam: this involves the doctor feeling the prostate through the rectum, searching for irregularities like hard or lumpy nodules that may indicate prostate cancer. This is the most common form of screening.
- PSA blood test: this test looks for a substance made by the prostate, known as prostate-specific antigen (PSA). While the test is useful, many men with elevated PSA levels do not necessarily have prostate cancer. To confirm the findings of either of these tests, a biopsy of prostate cells is necessary.
Early-stage prostate cancer often has no symptoms and is found through the screening methods above. If symptoms occur, it's typically a later-stage cancer. Symptoms can include:
- Frequent urination, especially at night.
- Weak or interrupted urine flow, or straining while urinating.
- Blood in urine or seminal fluid.
- Erectile dysfunction.
- Discomfort or pain while sitting due to enlarged prostate.
- Less commonly, pain or burning during urination.
These conditions are not exclusive to prostate cancer, so consult with your doctor if you're experiencing them.
If prostate cancer has spread, the following symptoms may occur:
- Pain in the back, hips, thighs, shoulders, or other bones.
- Fluid buildup or swelling in the legs and feet.
- Change in bowel habits.
- Unexplained weight loss.