Prostate Cancer Update 18: Know Your Risk
Prostate cancer is the most common type of non-skin cancer in the United States. One out of every nine men will get prostate cancer in their lifetime. Unfortunately, there usually aren’t any early warning signs for prostate cancer. The growing tumor does not push against anything to cause pain, so for many years the disease may be silent. That’s why screening for prostate cancer is such an important topic for all men and their families. In rare cases, prostate cancer can cause symptoms. Contact your doctor for an evaluation if you experience any of the following: · A need to urinate frequently, especially at night, some- times urgently
- Difficulty starting or holding back urination
- Weak, dribbling, or interrupted flow of urine
- Painful or burning urination
- Difficulty in having an erection
- A decrease in the amount of fluid ejaculated
- Painful ejaculation
- Blood in the urine or semen
- Pressure or pain in the rectum
- Pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, pelvis, or thighs
Remember: urinary symptoms don’t necessarily mean you have cancer. Prostatitis or BPH (Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy, also known as enlargement of the prostate) are benign diseases but can cause similar symptoms and are very common. What about difficulty in having an erection? Again, this is most likely not caused by cancer but by other factors such as diabetes, smoking, cardiovascular disease, or just plain getting older. That said: Symptoms are symptoms, and no matter what’s most likely to be causing them, you should get them checked out by a doctor. Refer to https://www.cancer.va.gov/CANCER/pcf.asp for more info on screening, the PSA Test, Prostate Exams, VA and PCF Partnership Videos, and special information for Veterans
VA has teamed up with the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) to encourage men (and their families) to better understand prostate cancer risk and to take proactive measures to protect their health. 2021 will come with new ideas and goals, and there’s no better time to know your risk. Now is the time to make a plan to talk to your doctor at your next checkup about whether prostate cancer screening is right for you.
Gulf War Veteran Milton “Trey” Wilborn III, who lost his battle to an aggressive form of prostate cancer at the age of 49 in 2020, generously volunteered to share his story with other Veterans. Wilborn urged men to get checked, regardless of whether they are experiencing symptoms or feel they are too young. “I was diagnosed with prostate cancer at the age of 45,” Wilborn said. “I never even knew what a PSA (prostate-specific antigen) was. I didn’t know what a prostate was until I got sick … VA does take care of their Veterans. Their treatment is the best, you have all the newest, latest, greatest equipment and everything in all the treatments.”
VA partnered with PCF in 2016 to advance best-in-class research and care for Veterans at risk for prostate cancer. Oncologists at 12 VA PCF Centers of Excellence (COE’s) are collaborating to bring the latest breakthroughs to Veterans. To date, PCF has committed more than $50 million to this collaboration and recently publicly announced a commitment to help stand up 21 total COEs. So far, hundreds of 69 Veterans have been seen by a doctor for precision oncology at one of 12 COEs across the country. These centers are working to ensure every Veteran can access cutting-edge advances in prostate cancer research and treatment.
When PCF started working with the Washington DC VA Medical Center, Wilborn and his wife Shawni stepped up to work with PCF to champion prostate cancer awareness. You can read more about their touching story at https://www.pcf.org/c/love-story. Milton shared how the message of early detection, if it reached just one Veteran, could save lives. “God put me in a position to be able to tell my story,” he said, adding that he was grateful for the opportunity to help educate other men and their families.
Among those that VA and PCF hope to reach: African American men remain the hardest hit by prostate cancer. They are 79% more likely to develop prostate cancer than Caucasian men, and are more than twice as likely to die from the disease compared to men of other ethnicities. Precision screening is the best defense for men against prostate cancer. Awareness of your risk and talking to your doctor about screening are the next steps every man can take in 2021. Learn more at https://www.pcf.org/vets . In addition, PCF has a variety of resources to help.
[Source: Vantage Point Blog | January 1, 2021 ++]