June is Men’s Health Month

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Provided by Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center

More African American men are being diagnosed with and dying of prostate cancer.

According to ZERO Prostate, a group devoted to the prevention and fight against prostate cancer, it’s estimated one in eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime. But the group also notes that number increases to one in seven for African American men.

That’s why doctors say it’s important for all men, but especially African American men, to be screened. The most common screening tool is a PSA, or prostate-specific antigen test, or digital rectal exam.

“The prostate is a gland that sits underneath the urinary bladder and helps a man achieve erections, have semen and prevents infections of the urinary tract,” explains Urologist Bill Reha. “The problem with prostate cancer is typically there are no symptoms, so it is recommended that a man see his physician annually and consider having a digital rectal exam and PSA. Typically, this is elevated in men who have prostate cancer, but remember, it can be elevated for a host of other reasons.”

According to the American Cancer Society, when you start screening depends on each man and his risks. Men who are at an average risk of prostate cancer should start screenings at age 50. For men at high risk of developing prostate cancer, such as African American men or those who have a first-degree relative (father or brother) diagnosed at an early age, they should begin screenings at 45. For men at an even higher risk, with one or more first-degree relatives with prostate cancer at a young age, screenings should start at age 40.

Experts say the good news is the five-year survival rate for prostate cancer is 90% — meaning early detection is key.

“Treatment for prostate cancer today is highly effective if caught early,” explains Dr. Reha. “Some treatments include radical prostatectomy and radiation therapy. For those with advanced disease, we also have highly effective treatments today. There is an explosion of new treatments coming almost daily for men with both localized and advanced prostate cancer, and the outlook in the future is very bright.”

If you have trouble urinating, blood in your urine or semen, trouble getting an erection, weakness or numbness in the legs or feet, or even loss of bladder or bowel control, these could be a sign there’s a problem.

If you’re having an issue, don’t delay. Talk with your primary care provider or find your urologist at sentara.com.

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