How to recognize prostate cancer

It may surprise some people, but prostate cancer is the number one cancer threat to the health and lives of Canadian men. The incidence of prostate cancer in men is as great as that of breast cancer in women.

One in every eight Canadian men will develop the disease in their lifetime. One in three of those men will die. Researchers estimate that at least 20,000 men will be diagnosed with the disease this year.

“Prostate cancer is a very serious health issue and being informed is one of the best defenses against this very common disease,” says Dr. Laurence Klotz, Chair of the Prostate Cancer Research Foundation of Canada.

Risk years-50+
“Currently, approximately five million men are in their prostate cancer risk years (age 50 plus). Because prostate cancer is a disease characterized by choices at almost every step of the disease process, it is imperative to promote education so that Canadian men can make the right decisions – based on knowledge.”

The cause of prostate cancer is not yet known. There are certain factors that increase the risk of prostate cancer including age, family history and diet. Symptoms of prostate problemincluding but not limited to cancer can include:
· Frequent, difficult or painful urination
· Blood or pus in the urine
· Pain in the lower back, pelvic area or upper thighs
· Painful ejaculation

Check-ups, testing
Prostate cancer is a silent killer because it does not present symptoms in its early and most curable stages. For this reason, it is important that men over the age of 50 (or 40 if there is a family history), go for annual medical check-ups and ask about testing for the disease.

The detection of prostate cancer relies on complementary tests. To begin, the doctor performs a mildly uncomfortable digital rectal exam (DRE) to feel whether the prostate is swollen. Depending on the result, the doctor may take a blood sample for a PSA test. A high reading may indicate prostate cancer or simply a benign enlargement of the prostate. Only a biopsy will tell for sure. If it is cancer, the options can be hormone or radiation treatment or surgery.

This year, September 20-26 is Prostate Cancer Awareness Week. The aim is to get Canadian men, their families and friends talking about the disease, early detection, prevention and methods for treatment.