Determining Your Risk for Prostate Cancer

Every day in the United States, 80 men lose their life to prostate cancer. Despite that dismal statistic, prostate cancer can be treated when detected early. Self risk assessment and proper testing via PSA is the key.

The prostate is about the size of an average walnut and produces the fluid that propels the sperm through the penis during ejaculation. It is below the bladder and directly in front of the rectum. Because of this positioning, a doctor can do a rectal exam and check the size and condition of the prostate. This rectal exam, a DRE (digital rectal exam) has been a standard test for men in the detection of cancer as well as the non-cancerous BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia). In 1985 a new test was approved called a PSA (prostate specific antigen) which will detect a cancer presence with that substance is elevated in the blood. This now has become a revolutionary test in the early detection fight. Early prostate cancer often does not cause symptoms. Men should get a PSA and a DRE each year if they are 50 and over, or for men over 45 if they are at risk due to heredity and risk factors.

How do you know if you are at risk? Well, all men are at some risk, but hereditary, age, and sometimes diet can affect your factor. You tend to be at greater risk for getting prostate cancer if you are over 50, African American, living in the USA, and you have a brother or father that has had prostate cancer. Heredity is a risk factor that doubles your chances of getting the disease yourself. You may be increasing your risk factor if you eat a lot of red meat, have a fatty diet, sexually inactive, obese, and if you have had a vasectomy. Knowing your risk factor can tell you when you need to go and begin your yearly testing.

Not everyone with prostate cancer is symptomatic, meaning that you may have the disease and not know it. The symptoms of prostate cancer include:

– The need to urinate frequently
– The need to urinate at night
– Have difficulty beginning urination
– Have difficulty stopping urination
– Have difficulty urinating at all
– Have a weak flow or an interrupted flow
– Have painful erections, difficulty getting an erection, or blood in your ejaculate or urine

If you have any of the above symptoms, get tested. Remember the key is finding it early and treating it fast. If you’d like to contact a support group for prostate cancer patients and their loved ones you can get in touch with any of the below groups and they will be sure to help you.

The National Prostate Cancer Coalition
1158 15th Street
Washington, DC 20005
Tel: (202) 463 9455
www.pcacoalition.org.

The American Prostate Society
7188 Ridge Road
Hanover, MD 21076
Tel: (410) 859 3735
Fax: (410) 850 0818
www.ameripros.org.

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