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Elevate Your Prostate Awareness

By: John C. Varner III (Board Certified Medical Physicist / Radiation Oncology)

Although strides have been made in the fight against prostate cancer, it remains the most commonly diagnosed

cancer and the second leading cause of cancer deaths in men. More than 240,000 men will be diagnosed with

prostate cancer this year. The stats don’t lie; prostate cancer affects one in every six men. Yet, there are not

enough federal dollars, attention, and support for prostate cancer research.

Research has shown that men with certain risk factors are more likely than others to develop prostate cancer. The

biggest risk factor is age along with a family history of the disease. Men with a father or brother who have been

diagnosed with prostate cancer have more than twice the risk of being diagnosed. Race is also a risk factor. Rates of

prostate cancer in the United States are 60 percent higher among African American men, and the mortality rate is

two-and-a half times that of Caucasian men.

Early detection and treatment are the key factors in addressing prostate cancer. A healthy diet and exercise may also

help to reduce the risk. Testing for prostate cancer consists of a simple blood test known as a PSA and brief physical

examination, which takes less than ten minutes, but could save a man’s life.

If diagnosed with prostate cancer, there are numerous treatment options:

Radiation Therapy
: External beam radiation to kill cancer cells can be used as a first treatment or after prostate

cancer surgery. In brachytherapy, tiny radioactive seeds about the size of a grain of rice are inserted into the


Surgery: Removing the prostate, or radical prostatectomy, is used to eliminate the cancer when it is confined to the

prostate. New techniques use smaller incisions and seek to avoid damaging nearby nerves.

Hormone Therapy
: Hormone therapy may shrink or slow the growth of your cancer, but unless it is used with

another therapy it will not eliminate the cancer.

Watchful Waiting: If the prostate cancer is determined not being aggressive, an option is to watch and wait. Also

some men who are older or have serious health conditions may not need treatment. Your doctor in that case will order

periodic testing.

As you elevate your prostate awareness, I hope that you use this information to get the conversation started with

your family, friends, and most importantly, your doctor.

Prostate Cancer. PubMed Health, 2010.