Fall is right around the corner and football season has finally arrived, which means September is upon us. This month is National Prostate Health Month, the time that health care providers raise awareness of prostate cancer and encourage men to talk to their doctors about getting screened.
Most of us know when our favorite football team is playing, but many don’t know that prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer and the second leading cause of cancer in American men. In the usual time it takes to watch a football game, it is estimated that 67 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and 10 men will die from it.
Fortunately, prostate cancer is one of the most treatable malignancies if it is caught early. Although there is no universally agreed-upon plan for its detection, diagnosis, and management, prostate cancer screenings offer an opportunity to catch the disease in its early stages when it is potentially curable or when less aggressive treatments can be used to possibly eliminate some of the expected side effects.
The American Cancer Society recommends that men, beginning at age 45 for high-risk and age 50 for average risk, have a discussion with a physician who can review the pros and cons of testing and make a decision based on individualized risk. If a man decides to screen, it is important for him to know that screening is not a diagnosis; it is a test only. Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) blood tests and the Digital Rectal Exam (DRE) provide valuable information to men and their doctors, but these tests are not a conclusive diagnosis. Abnormal results are a“red flag” that a prostate biopsy may be needed to check for prostate cancer. If treatment is needed, there are several options available; risks and benefits of each option should be discussed in detail with a physician.
So, what can you do? Talk with your doctor about scheduling a prostate screening. Maintain a healthy lifestyle by getting enough exercise, eating a well-balanced healthy diet, and avoiding excessive alcohol use and smoking to aid in reducing cancer risk in general. Know the risk and spread the word. Together we can tackle prostate cancer.
For more information or to register for a screening, call the Cancer Center of Thibodaux Regional Medical Center at 985.493.4008.