According to the National Cancer Institute, prostate cancer is the most common cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death among men in the United States. Although these statistics are startling, prostate cancer usually grows very slowly. Finding and treating it before symptoms occur may not improve men’s health or help them live longer. The challenge is to find the aggressive, fast growing cancers and treat them.
To Screen or Not to Screen
The first step for men for prostate cancer awareness is to have a discussion with a doctor about whether prostate cancer screening should be done and when it should start.
The decision about screening tests can be difficult, since not all screening tests are helpful and most have risks. Before having any screening test, a man should discuss the test with his doctor. It is important to know the risks of the test and whether it has been proven to reduce the risk of dying from cancer.
Men should also take into consideration if they have risk factors for prostate cancer. These include older age, family history of prostate cancer, and African American ethnicity.
When to Discuss Screening
The American Cancer Society suggests discussion about screening should take place at:
- Age 50 for men who are at average risk of prostate cancer and are expected to live at least 10 more years.
- Age 45 for men at high risk of developing prostate cancer. This includes African Americans and men who have a first-degree relative (father or brother) diagnosed with prostate cancer at an early age (younger than age 65).
- Age 40 for men at even higher risk (those with more than one first-degree relative who had prostate cancer at an early age).
What Hospital Marketers Can Do
Some men may be uncomfortable talking to doctors about prostate cancer. They may have a family member or friend with prostate cancer and wonder if it could be an issue for them. On the other hand, they may not have thought about it at all. September is a good month to have a campaign to educate men about the importance of discussing the pros and cons of prostate cancer screening with their doctors.