Of course, prostate cancer is not a cancer women can get. But there is a good chance a man they care about will be given a diagnosis of this disease. It could be their grandfather, father, husband, brother, or even son. Prostate cancer not only affects men. It also affects the women who are close to these men. This makes it important every woman should be educated about prostate cancer and the prostate gland.
The tentacle reach of a cancer diagnosis goes far beyond just the person affected with it. In the case of prostate cancer, any woman who is a wife or partner, mother, daughter, or sister of a man diagnosed with prostate cancer, will experience emotional and psychological reactions to this diagnosis. However, women are often the biggest influencers on men getting them to take care of themselves.
The more a woman knows about prostate cancer, the more she can help the men in her life diagnosed with it. Women who are understanding and supportive of men in their life with this disease, makes them a valuable asset beating it back.
Here are 8 things women need to know about prostate cancer:
1. Know what the prostate gland is
The prostate is a walnut-sized gland that is part of a man’s reproductive system located between the rectum and the bladder. It produces the liquid or semen that carries sperm and also helps regulate bladder control and sexual function.
2. Know what prostate cancer is
Prostate cancer occurs when cells in the prostate grows out of control. The cancer may remain confined to the prostate gland but it can also spread to other areas of the body such as lymph nodes, organs or to the bones. Remind men they need to be just as vigilant about prostate cancer as women are about breast cancer.
3. Know prostate cancer risk factors
Some of the following risk factors have been linked to this disease:
- Age – chances of having prostate cancer increase significantly after age 50.
- Family history – men whose father, brothers, uncles, or grandfathers have had prostate cancer are at double the risk.
- Race – the highest incidence of prostate cancer occurs in African American men and they are twice as likely to die from the disease.
- High fat diet and/or obesity
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Veterans and men exposed to Agent Orange are at an increased risk of developing the disease.
4. Know that prostate cancer is common
With the exception of skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in American men. The American Cancer Society estimated that almost 250,000 men were found to have prostate cancer and about 1 man in 8 will be diagnosed with the disease in their lifetime.
5. Know the symptoms
Often prostate cancer may have no symptoms but some common symptoms that may occur include blood in the urine or semen, erectile dysfunction, painful ejaculation, back or hip pain, and frequent urination and difficulty starting or stopping a urine stream.
6. Know how prostate cancer is detected
This is where early detection is crucial – by regular, consistent screenings. If a man develops prostate cancer the earlier it is caught the greater the chance of survival. The best early screening tool are a PSA (prostate specific antigen) blood test. It is recommended for a man to get a baseline PSA at age 40. PSA values should be tracked overtime – if it rises this could indicate the need for further screening.
7. Know the survival rate
Prostate cancer is a disease that if caught early is highly treatable. The good news is that most men with prostate cancer have a better outlook than ever before. Early detection, improved treatments, and new medications have boosted prostate cancer’s survival rate to 98 percent. In other words, nearly all men will survive it and likely die of another cause.
However, if the cancer has spread beyond the prostate, the survival rate decreases significantly which is why early detection is so important.
8. Know how to help a man care for his prostate health
Women have a bigger role in their man’s prostate health than they realize. Women understand the importance of taking care of themselves. This makes women excellent for encouraging men in their life to lead a healthy lifestyle and to be screened for prostate cancer by the following actions:
- Making sure he has annual physicals. If you have to make the appointment for him and go with him to it.
- If he smokes, help him to quit.
- Improve his eating habits by including more fruits and veggies.
- Get him exercising more – go on a brisk walk with him or workout together.
- Help him reach a healthy weight
- If he is diagnosed with prostate cancer, go with him to as many of his medical appointments as possible. Be well informed of his condition. Keep a journal of what the doctor says. Ask questions. Be his advocate for him because he will need you now more than ever.
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostate cancer 911.