As men grow older, it is more likely that they will develop an issue with their prostates, according to Harvard Medical School, and one of the most critical issues men can face when it comes to their prostates is prostate cancer. Research shows that one in nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime. According to the American Cancer Society, it is the most common form of cancer in American men, other than skin cancer. It is estimated that in the United States, there will be more than 164,000 prostate cancer cases reported in 2018, and more than 29,000 deaths from the disease.
Black men have a greater risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer than men of other races as reported by the Mayo Clinic, and they are at greater risk of being diagnosed when the disease is more aggressive or advanced. They are also twice as likely to die from prostate cancer than their white counterparts as reported in the 2018 Annual Report on Prostate Diseases by Harvard Medical School.
Discovering the disease in its early stages is a critical factor for prevention. The earlier the detection, the better the chances of successful treatment. Having a conversation with your doctor to get all of the information about the PSA blood test and a digital rectal exam is a great place to start. You should also discuss your medical history and take a look at your lifestyle as they also play an important role. Dr. James Ulchaker, a urologist at the Cleveland Clinic stated, “Prostate cancer is a very slow-growing cancer. Even if you have it, it’s not likely to kill you. And an elevated PSA may just be a sign of normal aging.” Therefore, having an annual check-up and prostate cancer screening, at the appropriate, age is essential.
Healthcare professionals recommend that men 50 and older have regular prostate cancer screenings, however, it is recommended that African-American men and men with a family history of prostate cancer begin annual screenings at age 40.
Here are some questions you should consider asking your doctor to help get the conversation started:
1. What does a prostate exam entail?
2. What is the PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test? What do the levels mean?
3. What is the DRE (digital rectal exam)? Why is it necessary?
4. Should I get tested?
5. What happens if I am diagnosed with prostate cancer?
6. Based on the results of my current physical, what steps can I take to play an active role in maintaining good health?