Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

September 15, 2021

Featured Photo

Men of the Marianas Islands, let’s have the talk. And no not the talk about the birds and bees — this is about Prostate Cancer. If you aren’t already aware cancer is a disease in which cells in the body grow out of control. In the United States, prostate cancer is the second most common cancer diagnosed which is why it is important to have “the talk” about what you can do to lower your risk and possibly save your life.

Prostate Who?

If you don’t already know the prostate is a part of the male reproductive system. This system includes the penis, the prostate, seminal vesicles, and testicles. It is located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum and is about the size of walnut surrounding the Urethra — the tube the empties urine from the bladder.

The prostate is the part of the reproductive tract that produces fluid that makes up part of semen. As a man ages it is natural that the prostate increases in size which often causes the urethra to narrow and decrease urine flow. This is called benign prostate hyperplasia and although may exhibit some symptoms as prostate cancer and is completely natural for some if not most men.

Let’s Talk Risk

As the prostate is exclusive to males, all men are at risk for prostate cancer. For the United States, out of every 100 men, about 13 will get prostate cancer during their lifetime according to the CDC and unfortunately 2 to 3 of those men will die from prostate cancer.

The most common risk factor is age, however there are other risk factors that make certain populations more at risk for getting and dying from the disease. Namely, if you are African- American or have a family history of prostate cancer this means that you are statistically more at risk than others.

Asian & Pacific Islanders

For Asians and Pacific Islanders in men there is some good news as according to the CDC the 5- year relative survival was highest for prostate cancer. This mean that men of Asian and or Pacific Islander descent are more likely to survive prostate cancer from the date of initial diagnosis. However, this is only done through early diagnosis and meaningful and appropriate care to address prostate cancer risk factors.

Family History

For those men with a family history of prostate cancer this naturally puts them more at risk. This is especially so for people who have a first-degree relative (father, son, brother) who had prostate cancer to as far back as three generations on either the mother or father’s side of the family. In addition, if you have family members diagnosed with breast, ovarian or pancreatic cancer this also puts you at more risk for prostate cancer.

Let’s Talk Screening

If you’re young with no symptoms worry not as the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), the governing body on all things preventative healthcare, does not require screening for men younger than 55 years of age. This is largely because your risk increases as you get older due to the natural enlarging of the prostate. In addition, screening for prostate cancer should not be conducted routinely for men aged 70 and older.

However, as with all things health, the most important rule of thumb is to have a talk with your doctor about your risk factors and whether you might need routine screening before the age of 55.

Let’s Talk Symptoms

For prostate cancer it is important to note that different people will have different symptoms and that is why it’s important to remain vigilant in knowing your body and knowing what is and isn’t normal. For any abnormalities it is always best to bring these to the attention of your physician and act accordingly. When it comes to prostate cancer these are common symptoms that you’ll want to pay special attention to:

  • Difficulty starting urination
  • Weak or interrupted flow of urine
  • Urinating often, especially at night
  • Trouble emptying the bladder completely
  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Blood in the urine or semen
  • Pain in the back, hips, or pelvis that doesn’t go away
  • Painful ejaculation

Keep in mind that although these are common symptoms for prostate cancer they may also be signs of other diseases. So, as mentioned before the best thing to do is to always consult your doctor.

Prostate of Mind

Let’s address the elephant in the room. For many men in the islands the prostate is a sensitive area that most men quite frankly don’t discuss and definitely don’t want anyone – even a doctor – anywhere near. This makes sense since it is after all it is connected to the same organ that can bring a man to his knees in seconds. However, we here at StayWell encourage all men to think about their whole health and not just the parts that we can see and feel. Let us give the gift of our health and lives to those around us who care about us and reduce the risk of prostate cancer and prostate cancer related deaths in the Mariana Islands.

For more information on prostate cancer and how you can reduce your risk check out these helpful links: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention | Prostate Cancer