September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. It’s a time of year when people, health care experts and caregivers make an extra effort to raise awareness about prostate cancer and educate those at risk.

Prostate cancer screening is critical to detect cancer early.

A combination of prostate-specific antigen and digital rectal exam is ideal for screening, usually once per year when men turn 50 (beginning at 40 if family history of prostate cancer or African American).

It also helps your oncologist detect and treat patients before metastatic prostate cancer develops. Both of these tests can aide in the diagnosis.

Below are five interesting facts about the prostate and cancer.

  • The prostate is a small, squishy gland about the size of a pingpong ball, located between the bladder and the rectum. As men age, the prostate can grow larger, even up to size of a large apricot. As the prostate increases in size, men tend to have increasingly worse urinary symptoms.
  • The prostate is not essential for life, but it is important for reproduction because it supplies the seminal fluid, which mixes with sperm from the testes. Seminal fluid helps the sperm to travel and survive. Seminal fluid includes enzymes like prostate-specific antigen (which often is measured as part of screening for prostate cancer), as well as other substances made by the seminal vesicles and prostate, such as zinc, citrate and fructose, that give sperm energy to make the journey to the egg.
  • Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in males, affecting around one in seven men. About one in 39 men die of prostate cancer. It is more common in men than breast cancer in women. Last year, approximately 175,000 prostate cancers were diagnosed in the United States.
  • Radiation therapy is by far the most common way to get treated for prostate cancer in the United States. A large study from the University of California, Los Angeles found radiation therapy (57.9%) was the most common treatment followed by radical prostatectomy (19.1%) and other treatments including watchful waiting or active surveillance (9.6%). There are several reasons for radiation therapy being the preferred treatment option. First, it is less invasive than surgery. Second, the curative rates are similar or better than surgery in most stages. Finally, radiation therapy is more cost effective and affordable than surgery, particularly in the case of brachytherapy (internal radiation seeds).
  • Intermittent fasting might reduce the risk of certain cancers. One study found that people who ate their evening meal before 9 p.m. and had at least a 13 hour window before the next meal had a 20% lower risk for breast or prostate cancer than those who ate after 10 p.m. or had less than a 13 hour window between meals.

Ultimately, the best chance of curing prostate cancer is by early detection and screening. If you have further questions or would like a consultation with a prostate cancer specialist, call 563-556-3944 or visit website at www.gopog.com.

Koneru is an oncologist with Paramount Oncology Group. He did his medical training and served as faculty at Northwestern University in Chicago.

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