This year, more than 174,600 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, and more than 31,600 die from the disease. Most prostate cancer is diagnosed in men older than 65.
What is Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer is extremely common amongst all demographics of men. It also disproportionately impacts black and older men. Despite the frequency of the disease, there is a silver lining. On average, prostate cancer patients have an extremely high rate of 5-year survival. Things like regular checkups and self-monitoring greatly aid in catching any potential incidences early on which immensely improves the fight against prostate cancer. And with the right plan of care, a high quality of life can usually be maintained.
This disease usually presents itself through issues with the urinary tract. It is screened for through blood testing and physical examination, and it is diagnosed through either biopsy or imaging such as ultrasound or MRI. There is also genetic testing available after diagnosis to assess any cancer mutation which allows for more effective, targeted treatment plans. Below, we have provided some statistics and their sources. We intend for this information to encourage vigilance with screenings and awareness of symptoms
In 2021, almost 250,000 U.S. men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, and more than 34,000 will die from the disease. That is one new case diagnosed every two minutes and another death from prostate cancer every 15 minutes.
One in eight men in the U.S. will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime. For Black men, one in seven will develop the disease.
Black men are over 75% more likely to develop prostate cancer than Caucasian men, and are more than twice as likely to die from the disease.
Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer in men in the U.S., and the fourth most common tumor diagnosed worldwide.
Early detection through screening is key. If caught early, nearly 100% of men with prostate cancer will survive five years or longer.
4 Things Black Men Should Know About Prostate Cancer
Black men both get and die from prostate cancer at a higher rate. The reasons are complex and unclear.
Black men should be screened for prostate cancer more proactively.
Black men and their doctors should be more cautious about active surveillance.
Large research studies are seeking participants to help understand prostate cancer in Blacks.
African American Men and Prostate Cancer
Risk Factors & Symptoms
Prostate Stages at a Glance
There are usually no symptoms in the early stages. Some men do not have symptoms at all. Some symptoms of prostate cancer include—
Difficulty starting urination.
Weak or interrupted flow of urine.
Frequent urination, especially at night.
Difficulty 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.
If you have any symptoms that worry you, be sure to see your doctor right away. Keep in mind that these symptoms may be caused by conditions other than prostate cancer.
Screening and Diagnosis
Two tests are commonly used to screen for prostate cancer—
Digital rectal exam (DRE): A doctor or nurse inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to estimate the size of the prostate and feel for lumps or other abnormalities.
Prostate specific antigen (PSA) test: Measures the level of PSA in the blood. PSA is a substance made by the prostate. The levels of PSA in the blood can be higher in men who have prostate cancer. The PSA level may also be elevated in other conditions that affect the prostate.
As a rule, the higher the PSA level in the blood, the more likely a prostate problem is present. But many factors, such as age and race, can affect PSA levels. Some prostate glands make more PSA than others. PSA levels also can be affected by—
Certain medical procedures.
An enlarged prostate.
A prostate infection.
Because many factors can affect PSA levels, your doctor is the best person to interpret your PSA test results. Only a biopsy can diagnose prostate cancer for sure.
Different types of treatment are available for prostate cancer. You and your doctor will decide which treatment is right for you. Some common treatments are—
Active surveillance. Closely monitoring the prostate cancer by performing prostate specific antigen (PSA) and digital rectal exam (DRE) tests regularly, and treating the cancer only if it grows or causes symptoms.
Surgery. A prostatectomy is an operation where doctors remove the prostate. Radical prostatectomy removes the prostate as well as the surrounding tissue.
Radiation therapy. Using high-energy rays (similar to X-rays) to kill the cancer. There are two types of radiation therapy—
External radiation therapy. A machine outside the body directs radiation at the cancer cells.
Internal radiation therapy (brachytherapy). Radioactive seeds or pellets are surgically placed into or near the cancer to destroy the cancer cells.
Hormone therapy. Blocks cancer cells from getting the hormones they need to grow.
Other therapies used in the treatment of prostate cancer that are still under investigation include—
Cryotherapy. Placing a special probe inside or near the prostate cancer to freeze and kill the cancer cell
Chemotherapy. Using special drugs to shrink or kill the cancer. The drugs can be pills you take or medicines given through your veins, or, sometimes, both.
Biological therapy. Works with your body’s immune system to help it fight cancer or to control side effects from other cancer treatments. Side effects are how your body reacts to drugs or other treatments.
High-intensity focused ultrasound. This therapy directs high-energy sound waves (ultrasound) at the cancer to kill cancer cells.
For more information, visit the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI’s) Prostate Cancer Treatment PDQ®. This site can also help you find a doctor or treatment facility that works in cancer care. Visit Facing Forward: Life After Cancer Treatment for more information about treatment and links that can help with treatment choices.