With summer over and the busy fall season of school, athletics, and other activities ramping back up, your health should not have to take a backseat. Make a note on your calendar that September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, and an opportunity to remind the men in your life—about the importance of a healthy prostate.
An estimated 161,360 men in the U.S. will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2017. In Ohio alone, about 5,800 men will be diagnosed, and it’s estimated just over 1,000 will die of the disease. A family history of prostate cancer puts you at increased risk, as does getting older (you are more likely to develop the disease after age 50).
Symptoms aren’t common in the early stages of prostate cancer, but as it progresses, you may experience difficulty urinating, weakened or interrupted urine flow, blood in the urine or pain while urinating. If you experience any of these symptoms, schedule a visit with your health care professional immediately.
Early detection of prostate cancer can save lives, but testing also has risks. Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) blood tests can result in false positives or prompt unnecessary treatment (and subsequent side effects) of cancers that might not have ever advanced. There are also tests that can better distinguish prostate cancers that are likely to be aggressive and those that would likely not cause harm, which can help guide treatment decisions. If you are a man age 50 or older (age 45 for African-American men or those with close relatives who have had the disease), you should talk to your health care professional about whether the benefits of screening outweigh the risks for you.
Don’t neglect your health during this hectic time of year. Maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly and not smoking can reduce your risk of prostate and other cancers. To learn more about prostate cancer, please visit preventcancer.org/prostatecancer.
LeeAnn Johnson is a member of the Prevent Cancer Foundation’s Congressional Families Program, and the spouse of U.S. Representative Bill Johnson. Statistics provided by the American Cancer Society.