Submitted by Carol Tomlinson RN BS, Community Health Educator
UNDERSTANDING PROSTATE CANCER
As we approach Prostate Cancer Awareness month, it’s a perfect time for men to talk with their health care providers about their risks for prostate cancer.
According to the NYS Department of Health, prostate cancer remains the second most common cancer among American men, second only to skin cancer. The good news is that fewer men are dying from the disease. In 2009, it’s estimated that more than 1700 men will die from prostate cancer in New York State and more than 13,000 new cases will be diagnosed. The fact remains that over the course of their lives, one man in six will be diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Scientists don’t know exactly what causes prostate cancer. However, certain factors have been shown to increase a man’s chances of developing it. These include:
Age: As men get older, their chance of getting this cancer increases. The majority of cases are diagnosed in men 65 and older, and 90% of prostate cancer deaths are in men over 65.
Ethnicity: Prostate cancer is much more common in African-American men than in white men. In New York State, African-American men are 50% more likely to develop prostate cancer, and nearly twice as likely to die from it.
Family History: If a man’s father, brother or son has had prostate cancer, his risk of having the disease is doubled or even tripled.
Diet: Some studies suggest that men who eat large amounts of animal fats may face increased risk of prostate cancer.
The good news is that most prostate cancers grow very slowly. There are more than two million men alive today who have had prostate cancer, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Some medical experts recommend prostate cancer screening for all men over 50, and for younger men who are at increase risk for the condition. However, at this time, there is not enough scientific evidence to say definitively that the benefits of prostate screening outweigh the risks associated with screening. Medical experts do agree that men should know the risks and benefits before they are screened.
For more information on prostate cancer, contact your health care provider, the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345 (cancer.org), or HealthLink Littauer at 736-1120. You can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our Wellness Center at 213 Harrison Street Ext. in Johnstown, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. We’re celebrating 20 years of being your community health & wellness service of Nathan Littauer Hospital and Nursing Home.