WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) – November is National Men’s Health Awareness Month and there are several efforts to protect men’s health, such as Movember and No-Shave November. This month specifically raises awareness and support for those dealing with prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health issues. Researchers say men are 24% less likely than women to have visited a doctor in the past year. But visits to the doctor can help screen for health problems that could become more serious.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in men in the United States. The good news is that it has one of the highest survival rates of any cancer due to its slow rate of growth and spread, as well as early detection.
Dr. Brad Leibovich is a urologist at the Mayo Clinic. He said early detection is the best defense.
“So men can have urinary complaints. They can be in pain… erectile dysfunction. But these are late events and we like to find prostate cancer early. When we detect prostate cancer early, it is usually asymptomatic. And that’s why we like to screen for prostate cancer. And if we catch it early, it significantly reduces the likelihood of prostate cancer threatening a man’s life and minimizes or eliminates the negative effects on quality of life from cancer and treatment.
He said active treatments for early-stage prostate cancer include surgery to remove the prostate and radiation therapy to the prostate.
“With advanced imaging techniques, we can target prostate cancer with therapy such as freezing or high-intensity ultrasound to kill tumor deposits,” said Dr. Leibovich.
There are ways to reduce your risk of prostate cancer. He said it starts with a healthy diet.
“So low fat, cutting out fruits and veggies, keeping your weight down, and exercise are all beneficial for prostate cancer prevention. But there’s really nothing beyond that lifestyle stuff.
But there is hope after a prostate cancer diagnosis. It has one of the highest survival rates of any cancer due to its slow rate of growth and spread, as well as early detection.
“We’re lucky to have about a 98% survival rate at five years and beyond,” Dr. Leibovich said.
Dr. Leibovich said the problem is men don’t like talking about prostate cancer and they may not get screened.
“So men assume that if something is found, it’s going to be problematic for them in terms of quantity or quality of life. But again, screening is critical to making sure we can cure people and we can cure them with minimal impact on their quality of life. And thanks to the advanced techniques we have developed to treat prostate cancer, you are much more likely to be cured. And we can prevent this from becoming a problem.”
He said prostate cancer is a disease of aging. People of African-American descent are at increased risk of developing prostate cancer at a younger age. Someone with a family history of prostate cancer would also be at increased risk. For example, a family history of breast or ovarian cancer may indicate an abnormality of a gene called BRCA, which could increase the risk of prostate cancer. And the same goes for a syndrome called Lynch syndrome, which causes colon cancer but also prostate cancer.
For men who are not at risk, Dr. Leibovich that men ask for a screening at age 55.
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