Doc: Women play key role in prostate cancer awareness

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September marks Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, and as a result, women throughout the United States have a valuable addition to their to-do list.  We are urging women to take advantage of this month, and remind the men in their lives to get screened.

According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, 1 in 6 men are affected by prostate cancer in the U.S.  This makes it the most common cancer in America after skin cancer. This year, an estimated 238,000 men will be diagnosed with the disease - many with almost no symptoms - and more than 30,000 men will lose their lives to it.

If detected early, the cure rate for prostate cancer is almost 100 percent.  This means that most men who are diagnosed at an early stage will be disease-free after 5 years.  These shocking statistics reiterate the importance of getting screened and staying one step ahead of this “silent killer.”  Additionally, men should know they are not alone; more than 2.5 million men are living with prostate cancer in America. Fortunately, there are many viable treatment options available.

What men and women should be most aware of this month is that “the silent killer” doesn’t have to kill. Understanding prostate cancer and respecting its unfortunate, but significant, role in our lives is key.

Preventative care is the easiest way to save your life. Here are 4 key things to remember:

LEARN your risk.
Genetics: Men with a father or brother with prostate cancer are twice as likely to develop the disease; having 3 or more relatives with prostate cancer makes a diagnosis almost certain.

Race: African American men have a 60 percent increased risk of prostate cancer over Caucasian men.

Age: More than 65 percent of prostate cancers occur in men over 65.

Weight: Obese men, those with a BMI over 30, are 33 percent more likely to die after a prostate cancer diagnosis.

IMPROVE your lifestyle.
Staying healthy doesn’t have to be hard. Eat right and exercise. While diet won’t necessarily prevent prostate cancer, eating right can improve your overall health and lower your risk for disease. Exercise goes a long way in improving a body’s strength and wellness, and is certainly part of maintaining a healthy weight.

SCREEN annually.
Men have a huge reluctance to see a doctor about anything. Annual physicals are an inconvenience to them. But waiting for symptoms doesn’t work with prostate cancer.  It is imperative for men to get annual PSA blood tests as well as Digital Rectal Exams as part of their annual routine.  Both these test are quick and painless.

TREAT aggressively.
With a prostate cancer diagnosis comes important treatment decisions. Talk to your doctor and do your homework to find the best treatment option for your case.

But as important as it is to bring awareness to, prostate cancer is not the only disease that can affect the prostate.  If you experience symptoms like frequency or difficulty urinating, weak or interrupted urine flow, pain associated with urination or ejaculation, erection difficulty and blood in urine or semen are issues that should be mentioned to your physician. Don’t dismiss them as minor or too embarrassing to discuss.

While prostate cancer takes center stage in the month of September, it’s important for women across the country to help with the mission of educating men about prostate health and awareness about prostate cancer.

To join the movement, please visit the “Women for Prostate Health” Facebook page.  I am urging women to seize the opportunity to do what they can to get the word out. Get the men in your life to the doctor. And men, listen to the women in your life! Together we can stop this silent killer in its tracks.

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