According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is the second most common type of cancer found in men, after skin cancer. In fact, 1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lives. But as common as prostate cancer is, it’s not always easy to identify. For example, you couldn’t pick the guy with prostate cancer out of a lineup in the way you could identify the guy with jaundice. Sure, you could maybe make a lucky guess, but this cancer is often slow to develop, and does not cause any early warning symptoms.
Since prostate cancer might not cause any health problems, it’s possible for it to go by unnoticed. There are autopsy studies that have identified prostate cancer in men who’ve died from unrelated causes. Sometimes, the treatments for prostate cancer can have serious side effects. That’s why it’s so important to discuss screening options with your doctor, especially if you are over the age of 50.
What’s a PSA test? The prostate produces a protein called prostate-specific antigen (PSA). A PSA test measures the prostate-specific antigen in your blood, but high PSA levels can be caused by a number of different things. People sometimes worry about false-positive, or even false-negative, results from PSA tests. That’s why tests are often repeated or sent to a specialist for a biopsy. Treatments can include surgery or radiation, which in some cases can be more harmful than the untreated prostate cancer.
How do you know if you should have a prostate cancer screening? There are four main factors that could place you at a higher risk of prostate cancer: age, ethnicity, family history, and diet. Men over the age of 50 are typically at a greater risk of prostate cancer. Prostate Cancer is more common in African-American men. If your father or brother was diagnosed with prostate cancer, you’re more likely to develop prostate cancer. High-fat diets and obesity are sometimes linked to prostate cancer.
Contact your primary care physician for more information on prostate cancer, screening, or treatment options.