September is recognized nationwide as National Prostate Health Month, in the interest of creating awareness around health issues associated with a man’s prostate. HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital and HSHS Medical Group encourages men to know the facts and risks that come with prostate cancer, and how to combat its symptoms.
According to the Prostate Health Guide, every 2.4 minutes, a new case of prostate cancer is diagnosed in the United States. Prostate cancer kills about 30,000 men each year in the U.S. with a 1 in 7 chance of American men being diagnosed in their lifetime.
The risk factors that come with prostate cancer can range from a family history of prostate cancer – especially those of African-American or Caribbean ancestries – to exposure to toxic chemicals. Symptoms include chronic pain, urinating difficulties, painful urination and blood within the urine. These symptoms are not early, and they can often mimic non-cancerous conditions making it harder to diagnose.
The most common test to screen for early signs of prostate cancer is a PSA blood test. The test measures the amount of a protein, prostate-specific antigen (PSA), produced in the prostate.
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“When patients ask about prostate cancer, my main suggestion is to get screened,” noted Dr. Randall Dooley, MD, HSHS Medical Group urologist. “Prostate cancer has a 99 percent five-year survival rate when diagnosed early. If you and your physician discuss your specific risk factors and are actively screening as appropriate your health outlook should be positive.”
Even if prostate cancer is detected, active surveillance could be an option if your doctor believes your cancer is growing slowly and won’t spread to the body en masse. Patients may also avoid side effects of the other treatments of prostate cancer, such as the bladder control problems that come with prostatectomy, or removal of the prostate.
Dooley and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend asking your doctor these questions about prostate cancer screening:
Am I at a greater risk for prostate cancer?
At what age should I start to think about screening for prostate cancer?
If I get my blood test and it is not normal, what other things could I have besides prostate cancer?
What is a biopsy, and how is it done?
What are the side effects or risks of a biopsy?
If my biopsy shows some cancer cells, what does that mean?
What are the side effects or risks of treatment?
The Cancer Care program at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital is accredited by the Commission on Cancer, a quality program of the American College of Surgeons. St. Elizabeth’s takes a multidisciplinary approach to treating cancer as a complex group of diseases that requires consultation among surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists, diagnostic radiologists, pathologists and other cancer specialists.
For more information about prostate cancer, visit http://www.prostatehealthguide.com/.
HSHS S. Elizabeth’s Hospital is part of the Southern Illinois Division of Hospital Sisters Health System, which also includes HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital in Breese, HSHS Holy Family Hospital in Greenville, HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital in Highland and HSHS St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital in Effingham.