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10 Key Facts About Prostate Cancer You Should Know

By Bradley Switzer, MD
Chief of Hematology/Oncology

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, an ideal time to learn more about how this potentially deadly disease affects men. At Reliant, different doctors work together to provide the best treatment for prostate cancer, including urologists, medical oncologists, surgeons, and radiation oncologists. Treatment options depend on a number of factors, including the type and stage of the cancer, the patient’s age, preferences, and overall health. That’s why it’s a good idea to learn more about this type of cancer and how it can affect your health.

1. Prostate cancer occurs when cells in the prostate, a small organ in men located below the bladder and in front of the rectum, begin to grow out of control.

2. Prostate cancer is not a rare disease. Other than skin cancer, it is the most common cancer in American men. The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be approximately 268,490 new cases of prostate cancer in the United States in 2022.

3. Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in American men, behind only lung cancer. About one man in 41 will die of prostate cancer.

4. African-American men are more likely to develop prostate cancer and are more likely to die from it. Approximately 1 in 6 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime.

5. You can inherit a greater risk of prostate cancer. Men who have a father, brother or son with a history of prostate cancer may be twice as likely to develop the disease.

6. Most prostate cancers are found early through screening during an annual physical exam. Early prostate cancer usually causes no symptoms. Not every prostate cancer requires treatment.

7. The most common way to screen for prostate cancer is the prostate specific antigen (PSA) test which measures the level of PSA in the blood. The levels of PSA, a substance made by the prostate, can be higher in men with prostate cancer. Elevated levels of PSA can also be found in patients without cancer and thus can be a difficult test to interpret.

8. According to the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force, for men aged 55 to 69 years the decision to undergo periodic PSA-based screening should be an individual one. Men should discuss the potential benefits and harms of screening with their clinician and decide based on their individual preferences. This should be based on family history, race/ethnicity, comorbid medical conditions and patient values.

9. As men increase in age, their risk of developing prostate cancer increases exponentially. About 6 in 10 cases are found in men over the age of 65. However, many prostate cancers grow slowly and don’t cause any health problems.

10. Prostate cancer treatment can cause major side effects, including bladder leakage and sexual dysfunction. These problems can often be successfully treated by a prosthetic urologist.

At your annual wellness exam be sure to talk to your primary care provider about your risk of prostate cancer and whether prostate cancer screening makes sense for you.

10 Key Facts About Prostate Cancer You Should Know

About Bradley Switzer, MD -Chief of Hematology/Oncology

Even though his father passed away at a young age from cancer, Dr. Bradley Switzer says his interest in medicine mostly came when he was an undergraduate student at USC. “One of my teachers, a physiologist, had a big interest in cancer and I wound up being fascinated by the science of it,” he explains. “After I graduated, I did some research work but ultimately decided that I needed to go to medical school. I did enjoy doing research...

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