Every woman knows about Breast Cancer and the life-changing impact it has on their lives. They know because it has gotten enormous public exposure and support needed to spread the awareness to all women, starting at an early age.
Yet, if you ask most men how much they know about Prostate Cancer, they know very little. They may say they know a relative or friend that had it; and they know it’s mostly old men that get it; and it’s the good cancer because you won’t die from it.
Well, wake up men – you have a lot to learn.
First some statistics for you:
- Prostate Cancer is the 2nd leading cause of cancer death in American men.
- About 1 man in 39 will die of Prostate Cancer.
- Other than skin cancer, Prostate Cancer is the most common cancer in American men.
- American Cancer Society’s estimates for 2016:
- Approximately 180,890 new cases of Prostate Cancer
- Approximately 26,120 deaths from Prostate Cancer
- About 1 man in 7 will be diagnosed with Prostate Cancer during his lifetime.
- About 6 cases in 10 are diagnosed in men aged 65 or older, and it is rare before age 40.
It is unknown what causes Prostate Cancer and there is no sure way to prevent it. But according to the American Cancer Society there are some things you can do that might lower your risk of Prostate Cancer, such as staying at a healthy weight, being physically active, and eating a wide variety of vegetables and fruits each day.
Screening can often find Prostate Cancer before any symptoms arise. When you are close to turning forty years of age, during your annual physical, your primary care doctor should start testing the amount of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in your blood and performing a digital rectal exam (DRE), in which the doctor puts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to feel the prostate gland. If either of these test results are abnormal, you will probably be referred to a Urologist for further testing for Prostate Cancer.
From a personal perspective…
Every man that has been diagnosed with Prostate Cancer can remember that day when the Urologist says your PSA is up and/or he feels something on your prostate. The doctor says it is probably cancer, and needs to do a biopsy to confirm. The doctor then gives the standard lecture about if you have to have cancer, this is the one to have; it is usually not aggressive and it is slow growing; almost all men will have it and will die with it – not because of it. You will probably die of something else. So you walk away from the visit thinking – Good news, Bad news. Bad news is you probably have Prostate Cancer. Good news is if you have cancer, this is the one to have.
The follow up consult after the biopsy results are available will determine how you will live the rest of your life. If the news is good, the nurse will usually call with the results and set a date in the future to come back for a checkup. If it is bad news they will call, tell you it is cancerous, and tell you to bring your spouse with you to consult with the doctor and discuss options. You now know that you have Prostate Cancer. A dark day indeed.
During the consult the doctor will explain how many of the biopsies were cancerous, and what level they are (Gleason score). The Gleason grading system is used to help evaluate the prognosis using samples from the prostate biopsy. Together with other factors, it is assimilated into a strategy of Prostate Cancer staging which predicts prognosis and helps guide therapy. Cancers with a higher Gleason score are more aggressive and have a worse prognosis. Your journey with Prostate Cancer has started.
If you have a low Gleason score, etc., the doctor will explain there are a lot of options to consider with a positive prognosis for a long life. However, if you have a high Gleason score, etc., meaning the cancer is aggressive, the doctor will explain that you are past the point of utilizing most of the options and will explain which options are available to you. You now know you have a cancer that can kill you if you don’t do something radical — now. This is when you have to make a life-changing decision, thus the reason for your spouse being with you. This is probably the darkest day in your life to-date.
May 20, 2011 was my darkest day. My five-year journey with cancer has been a roller-coaster of treatments, drugs, and emotions. However, I have surpassed the five-year life expectancy which most doctors base their predictions on and I will continue the fight with the next treatment or drug available, whatever it takes to defeat this beast called Cancer.
Guys, don’t take a chance. Get screened for Prostate Cancer.
It may save your life!
Until someone close to you has been diagnosed with cancer, you will not know, nor understand, the impact that cancer has on that person and their family. Their life is now lived in short snippets of time. Every treatment or drug is meant to extend their life a number months, maybe years. Even if the cancer is proclaimed to be in remission, they continue to live with the fears of it returning.
**During my journey with Prostate Cancer I have been keeping a journal. I have been working on putting it in book format, with the hope of publishing it someday to help others understand. I will be retiring in a few months and will continue working on the book.
For more information on Prostate Cancer, visit American Cancer Society’s website at the following link… http://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostatecancer/index