You may know prostate cancer as the most common non-cutaneous (non-skin) cancer in men in the United States, and also the second most common cause of cancer death. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, especially considering that prostate cancer screening rates have been dropping. Here are 9 other facts that you should know about this silent killer:
- One out of six white males, and one out of five African-American men, will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetimes. Some studies have implied that hormonal differences may have a role, since young African-American men have 15% higher testosterone levels than those in white men of the same age. Asian men are in luck, however, as they have the lowest risk factor of developing this disease.
- It is rarely diagnosed in men younger than 40 years old. Most prostate cancer diagnoses are made in men aged 60 years old and above.The risk factor can be as high as 80% by age 80. Interestingly, prostate cancer is increasingly found during autopsies performed on men who have died from other causes.
- Additional risk factors for prostate cancer include genetics, an unhealthy diet, and other environmental factors.
- Instead of reducing the risk of getting prostate cancer, consumption of selenium and vitamin E supplements can actually increase the chance of developing it. This was the result of the 2014 Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT) study, which had actually set out to test if these supplements help preventing the disease.
- Many symptoms of prostate cancer are similar to other diseases. One such symptom is difficulty in urinating, which is both a symptom of prostate cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). This is why it’s important to consult a doctor if you are experiencing any of these symptoms. A doctor will be able to prescribe additional tests and conduct a more thorough examination to come up with a conclusive diagnosis.
- That said, many prostate cancer diagnoses in recent years have been made even if the men are asymptomatic. This was only made possible through rigorous testing and regular screening.
- There is actually no one standard screening test to check for prostate cancer yet. While physicians employ a variety of diagnostic tests, and several have shown promising results in cancer detection, some of these are still being evaluated. These include the digital rectal exam (DRE) test,the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, and a transrectal ultrasound.Most doctors would rely on a combination of these tests plus an evaluation of risk factors when coming up with anaccurate diagnosis. A transrectal biopsy is also performed to identify if the mass is cancerous.
- If a cancer has been detected, there are different kinds of treatment available: surgery, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, chemotherapy, bisphosphonate therapy, and biologic therapy. The treatment plan will be based on the health of the patient and the stage of the cancer when it was detected.
- Other newer kinds of prostate cancer treatment are undergoing clinical trials. These include cryosurgery, which freezes and destroys the cancer cells; high-intensity focused ultrasound, which uses sound waves to kill these cells; and proton beam radiation therapy.