In one form or another, September has been Prostate Cancer Awareness Month since 1989 when September 17 to 24 was designated as Prostate Cancer Awareness Week. Later, in 1999, the American Foundation for Urological Disease (now the Urology Care Foundation) declared the entire month of September to be National Prostate Health Month. More recently, George W. Bush gave the month its current title: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.
Second only to skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer among men in the U.S. In 2011, the most recent year on record, over 200,000 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer and 27,970 men died from it. That means about 1 in every 7 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. The good news is that most men survive and are even cured of their prostate cancer.
Because it is such a common form of cancer, the American Cancer Society recommends that every man get checked for prostate cancer regularly. As with any form of cancer, early detection is key, and deciding when you should discuss prostate cancer with your doctor depends on certain risk factors (any attribute, characteristic, or exposure that increases the likelihood of developing a disease):
- Age is the strongest risk factor for prostate cancer. As you get older, your chances of having prostate cancer go up significantly. In fact, almost 66% of prostate cancer cases occur in men who are 65 years of age or older.
- Family history is another risk factor. Men whose father or brother had (or have) prostate cancer are more likely to get this disease, especially if their father or brother had prostate cancer before they turned 65.
- Race, although we do not know why, is another important risk factor to consider. Prostate cancer is more common in African American men compared to other races.
Based on these risk factors, the American Cancer Society has made some specific recommendations about when to start getting tested for prostate cancer, even if you do not have any symptoms:
- Every man should speak to his doctor at age 50 to decide if testing for prostate cancer is a prudent medical decision.
- Men whose father or brother had prostate cancer and African American men should speak with their doctor at age 45.
- Men who have two or more close relatives who had prostate cancer, especially if it developed before they turned 65, should discuss testing for prostate cancer at age 40.
Keep in mind that these are just general guidelines about when you should discuss the issue of prostate cancer with your doctor. You can, of course, speak with your doctor about this disease at any time.
And you should definitely speak with your doctor right away if you exhibit any of these common signs or symptoms of prostate cancer:
- Pain when you urinate or ejaculate
- Blood in your urine or semen
- Trouble passing urine (weak or interrupted flow)
- Frequent urination, especially at night
- Difficulty emptying your bladder completely
Many of these symptoms have causes unrelated to prostate cancer, but you should definitely talk to your doctor right away if you are exhibiting any of these symptoms.
If you think it’s time to discuss the issue of prostate cancer with a doctor, you can use Meritage Medical Network’s user-friendly “Find a doctor” search feature on our homepage – you can search by location and by specialty to find a qualified urologist near you.
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014, September 2). Prostate cancer. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/prostate/index.htm
 American Cancer Society. (2014). Learn about cancer: Prostate cancer. Cancer.org. Retrieved from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostatecancer/