Get Well Wednesday: What You Should Know About Prostate Cancer

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September is Prostate Awareness Month. Prostate cancer can be a killer if not caught early. An NFL veteran and a doctor have teamed up to help raise awareness about the very real threat of this disease and how easy it is to get screened for and treat it, if necessary.

WHO SHOULD BE SCREENED FOR PROSTATE CANCER?

According to guidelines published by the American Cancer Society, “Asymptomatic men who have at least a 10-year life expectancy have an opportunity to make an informed decision with their healthcare provider about screening for prostate cancer after they receive information about the uncertainties, risks, and potential benefits associated with prostate cancer screening.”

 MOST MEN NEED A PEP TALK BEFORE GETTING SCREENED. TELL US ABOUT THE CAMPAIGN?

Cancer Treatment Centers of America®, the NFL Alumni Association and LabCorp have joined together to raise awareness around the importance of prostate cancer screening. Throughout September, Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, we will offer free Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) screenings to eligible men, age 40 and older, at select LabCorp locations across the country.

 WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO GET THE FREE SCREENINGS AND WHERE DO MEN SIGN UP?

2,000 men, ages 40 and older, are eligible Sept. 1 through Oct. 15 to sign up for a screening at LabCorp locations throughout the United States. Men can simply go to prostatepeptalk.com to sign up for a test. Screenings must be performed within six months of the sign up date.

HOW DOES PROSTATE CANCER AFFECT AFRICAN-AMERICAN MEN?  

According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in African-American men, accounting for 31 percent of all cancers diagnoses. It also estimates that 1 in 5 African-American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime.

WHY IS THE NFLA INVOLVED IN THIS PARTNERSHIP?

The NFLA’s mission is “Caring for Kids & Caring for Our Own.” It takes a village to tackle this disease and we want to continue to raise awareness alongside the CTCA team in order to find a cure.

WHAT IS YOUR MESSAGE FOR AFRICAN-AMERICAN MEN TO GET SCREENED?

African-American men are about 70% more likely to develop prostate cancer than Caucasian or Hispanic men. It’s important for every African-American man to be aware of his health and, most importantly, to get screen for prostate cancer.

Dr. Cavanaugh answers your questions on the next page. 

 If your father has prostate cancer is it more likely that the son will have it?

Yes- there are two groups defined as high risk: African-American men and men with a family history of prostate cancer.

I’ve never had a problem urinating or anything else. I’m 50, so do I need to get a check if I have no symptoms?

Absolutely. The best time to get checked is before there are any symptoms. The outcomes are best when the cancer is caught early before it is causing any noticeable problems.

What’s the earliest age for my son to get tested for prostate health when there is history in the family? 25?

That is a great question. For other cancers with a hereditary risk factor such as colorectal cancer, screening is initiated when the patient is 10 years younger than the youngest diagnosis in the family. Although that is not a formal recommendation for prostate cancer, a thoughtful discussion with your doctor would be the best way to decide.

I had prostate removed last year because of cancer, will I ever be able to function sexually again?

There are many options for men in your situation. Your urologist should be able to discuss them with you and if not then seek out a doctor who is comfortable discussing sexual health issues. Speak up and don’t be shy – your doctors want to help you with this issue.

 Dr.,  what does the PSA blood test consist of?

PSA is a chemical made by the prostate of all men, not just those with cancer. The PSA level of a man can depend on many things, including ethnicity and age. Other ways of looking at PSA including rate of increase and ratio of PSA to prostate volume are also used as screening tools. Most men just add PSA to the labs that are run at their annual physical.

What are signs of prostate problems? When and how often should men get checked /tested?

 Urinary hesitation or having to strain, blood in the urine, frequent urination at night and other symptoms might indicate prostate problem. However, PSA screening is best initiated prior to any symptoms based on risk factors and a conversation with your doctor.

Can you give us some tips on what we can do to prevent prostate cancer? 

There is some evidence that a healthy diet has a preventative effect in many cancers, including prostate cancer. In addition, maintaining a healthy body weight may prevent some of the more aggressive forms of prostate cancer. On a lighter note, frequent ejaculation during a man’s younger decades appears to have a preventative effect, as well.

I am a prostate cancer survivor, just had surgery in March. My question is how long before my erection comes back and will I ever be back to normal? What can I do to get them back and will I ever be able to release semen again? 

If the prostate has been surgically removed then semen production will not return. However, erections and satisfying orgasms may still be possible. Don’t wait – talk to your doctor now about your sexual health and ask about your options.

Is prostate cancer related to men using baby powder?

Talcum powder appears to have a link to ovarian cancer in women and some data suggest that we may find a link to some forms of lung cancer in the future. I am not aware of any research linking talcum powder to prostate cancer.

 

13-YEAR NFL VETERAN DESMOND CLARK TALLIED MORE THAN 300 RECEPTIONS FOR OVER 3,500 YARDS AND IS CURRENTLY SERVING AS THE NFL ALUMNI’S CHICAGO CHAPTER PRESIDENT. DR. SEAN CAVANAUGH IS CHIEF OF RADIATION ONCOLOGY AT CANCER TREATMENT CENTERS OF AMERICA AT SOUTHEASTERN REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER IN ATLANTA.

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