Prostate cancer is a cancer that affects men all over the world. But, it’s not usually talked about openly. Dr. Freda Lewis Hall Chief Patient Officer at Pfizer came on the TJMS to let us know some of the most important things about Prostate cancer.

How common is it? 

In men, and in particular African American men, need to know that prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men worldwide. For African American men, prostate cancer is even more common, aggressive and deadly compared to other racial groups such as Caucasian men. Here are some numbers: African-American men are more than one and a half times more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer and are more than two times more likely to die from the disease than Caucasian men.

Are there other risk factors?

Family history: Having a father or brother with prostate cancer more than doubles a man’s risk of prostate cancer.

Age: Prostate cancer develops predominately in older men.

Now worryingly, in the early stages of prostate cancer – when a man is most likely to be treated successfully – there may be no symptoms or warning signs.

So if you suspect that you might be at risk or think something may be up, talk to a doctor about whether screening may be right for you.

How does screening work?

There a couple different screening options, including:

Digital rectal exam: This is the one y’all probably heard of. A doctor feels for hard areas or lumps in the prostate by inserting a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum. This exam can make men feel anxious or uncomfortable, but it takes only a minute to do.

Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test: PSA is a substance that can be found in blood. Elevated PSA levels are often found in men with prostate cancer. But a bunch of other things – including an inflamed or enlarged prostate – can also cause PSA levels to increase.

Are there other things that men should consider?

First, neither test is foolproof: it’s possible for your PSA levels to be elevated when cancer isn’t present, and to not be elevated when cancer is present.

And second, further testing is often required if the results from either of these tests comes back abnormal.

But here’s the good news: men who are diagnosed with earlier stages of the disease fare better, with nearly 100% of men surviving five years and beyond.

Any final thoughts, Dr. Freda?

Prostate cancer is killing men, especially African American men. But early diagnosis can help us save lives. So gentlemen listen up: when it comes to prostate cancer, understand the risk factors, know your family history, and talk to your doctor.

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