Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men after skin cancer, but it is very treatable and has a 96.8% survivor rate when treated.
According to the N.M. Department of Health, in our state prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer for African American, Asian, Hispanic and White men, and is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer for American Indian men. Prostate cancer is the leading cause of death from cancer for American Indian men, the second leading cause of death from cancer for African American and White men and is the third leading cause of cancer death for Asian and Hispanic men in New Mexico.
The following is from the American Cancer Society website.
What is prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer begins when cells in the prostate gland start to grow out of control. The prostate is a gland found only in males. Almost all prostate cancers are adenocarcinomas. These cancers develop from the gland cells.
Finding it early
If prostate cancer is found at screening, it will probably be at an earlier, more treatable stage than if no screening were done.
Prostate cancer can often be found early by testing for prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels in a man’s blood. PSA is a protein made by both normal cells and cancer cells in the prostate gland. PSA is mostly found in semen, but a small amount is also found in blood.
The chance of having prostate cancer goes up as the PSA level goes up, but there is no set cutoff point that can tell for sure if a man does or does not have prostate cancer. Many doctors use a PSA cutoff point of 4 ng/mL or higher when deciding if a man might need further testing, while others might recommend it starting at a lower level, such as 2.5 or 3. When prostate cancer develops, the PSA level often goes above 4. Still, a level below 4 is not a guarantee that a man does not have cancer. About 15% of men with a PSA below 4 will have prostate cancer if a biopsy is done.
Men with a PSA level between 4 and 10 (often called the “borderline range”) have about a 1 in 4 chance of having prostate cancer.
If the PSA is more than 10, the chance of having prostate cancer is over 50%.
The American Cancer Society recommends men thinking about getting tested for prostate cancer learn as much as they can so they can make informed decisions based on available information, discussions with their doctor, and their own views on the possible benefits, risks and limits of prostate cancer screening.
Signs and symptoms
Early prostate cancer usually causes no symptoms. More advanced prostate cancers can sometimes cause symptoms, such as:
• Problems urinating, including a slow or weak urinary stream or the need to urinate more often, especially at night
• Blood in the urine or semen
• Trouble getting an erection
• Pain in the hips, back, chest or other areas from cancer that has spread to bones
• Weakness or numbness in the legs or feet, or even loss of bladder or bowel control from cancer pressing on the spinal cord
It is important to tell your health care provider if you have any of these symptoms so the cause can be found and treated, if needed.
Men, do not think that these symptoms are “just part of aging.” Tell your primary care provider if you are experiencing signs and symptoms. Loved ones, encourage the men in your life to see their provider. Take it seriously. Be your own best advocate.
For most men diagnosed with prostate cancer, the cancer is found while it is still at an early stage – it’s small and has not spread beyond the prostate gland. These men often have several treatment options to consider. Talk to your primary care provider. Active surveillance may be a course of action.
Support in New Mexico
From the Prostate Cancer Support Association of New Mexico website: “Talk with us. We’ve been there. We are prostate cancer survivors, here to answer your prostate cancer questions.” Call or email for information on support group meetings or for free, one-on-one support. Call (505) 254-7784 seven days a week, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit 2533 Virginia St NE, Suite C Albuquerque, NM 87110. There is a free annual conference Saturday, Nov. 12, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. More information can be found at pcsanm.org.