June is Men's Health Month, making it the perfect time for men to take charge of their annual check-up and wellness screenings. And if you're a male over age 45, consider this month a PSA to talk to your doctor about your PSA levels, and if you should be tested for prostate cancer.
Around 175,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year, making it the most common cancer in American men (other than skin cancer), says the American Cancer Society. This means about 1 man in 9 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime.
Experts have mixed reviews on what age men should begin testing for prostate cancer, but in general, screening should begin in a man's 40s or 50s, says the Prostate Cancer Foundation. Things like age, family history, race, and other factors may play a role in prostate cancer risk, so men are encouraged to ask their doctor if they should start routine screening earlier than 40.
According to the American Cancer Society, regular screenings can often find prostate cancer before symptoms appear. But if a man does experience symptoms, he might have problems urinating, notice blood in his urine or semen, struggle with erectile dysfunction, or have pain or weakness in the hips, back, chest, and/or legs.
Luckily, most men diagnosed with prostate cancer do not die from the disease – more than 2.9 million men in the U.S. who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer are still alive today. This is largely in part to innovative treatments like immunotherapy. Celestia Higano, MD, FACP, Professor at the University of Washington, Member of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Medical Oncologist at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance says immunotherapy is the "hot topic" in cancer treatment right now.
"Immunotherapy works with the body's built-in immune system, directing it to identify and destroy cancerous cells," Higano says. "This type of therapy includes cancer vaccines, which have prompted good responses in some patients, including some with solid tumors, like prostate cancer. She says it's shown major impact in men who have had metastatic prostate cancer, where the disease has spread outside the prostate, usually to bone or lymph nodes."
Talk to your doctor about screening for prostate cancer, and any signs or symptoms you may be experiencing. For more information visit today's sponsor at www.dendreon.com.