Published on September 21, 2022

Prostate cancer: Early detection saves lives

According to Luke Huerter, MD, an oncologist with the LMH Health Cancer Center, prostate cancer is among the most common cancers in men worldwide, with 1.5 million cases diagnosed annually. September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month and with statistics like these, it is important to acknowledge this topic.

Luke Huerter, MD

Luke Huerter, MD

“In the United States, 11 percent of men are diagnosed with prostate cancer over their lifetime,” Dr. Huerter said. “During 2021 in the US, nearly 250,000 new cases of prostate cancer were diagnosed and there were over 30,000 deaths due to the disease.”

What do I need to know?

So what exactly is prostate cancer? Dr. Huerter says it is a cancer of the prostate gland, which is located below the bladder and in front of the rectum. Prostate cancer was first discovered in the mid-1800s.

“When it comes to screening, for the average-risk male screening begins around age 50. The average-risk male is typically Caucasian with no family history of prostate cancer,” he said. “In African American men, men with genetic mutations or who have a family history of prostate cancer, screening can begin at 40 to 45 years old.”

Dr. Huerter said screenings and annual visits are extremely important because when found early enough, prostate cancer can be very treatable. The vast majority of men with early-stage prostate cancer will be cured with treatment.  

“Even men with more advanced prostate cancer can live years with their disease,” Dr. Huerter said. “Prostate cancer treatment has evolved significantly over the years. Treatment can involve surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and androgen deprivation therapy. More recently, immunotherapy and targeted radioligand therapy have become newer options to treat prostate cancer.”

What are the symptoms?

Jon Heeb, MD, a urologist with Lawrence Urology Specialists, said when talking about the symptoms of prostate cancer, you hope there aren’t any. When prostate cancers are found early, it’s more than likely that no symptoms presented.

Jon Heeb, MD

Jon Heeb, MD

“If you are having severe pains, absolutely consult your trusted doctor. Significant pain may mean you have developed more advanced prostate cancer,” he said. “Though prostate cancer is something to be taken very seriously, there are also different diseases on the spectrum that may not require much worry.”

Though prostate cancer can be very treatable, there is no time like the present to take steps towards prevention. Dr. Heeb said it is never too late to change your habits and live a healthier lifestyle.

“It’s important to eat a healthy, plant-based diet,” he said. “This is the diet shown to be best for the prostate to keep it healthy and protected. Make sure you get lots of vegetables in or with your meals and exercise consistently. No matter your age or life stage, it is not too late to begin health changes.”

Dr. Heeb said though it is unlikely for someone to get prostate cancer below age 40, it is important to have a trusted primary care provider who you can turn to for all health questions.

“We know you may have questions regarding if and when you should be screened,” he said. “It is best to have a trusted health provider to walk you through health questions and walk alongside you when issues arise.”

NFL Hall of Fame player Shannon Sharpe

One in nine men will develop prostate cancer during their lifetime. NFL Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe is one of those men. Fortunately, he caught it early and is now cancer-free.

Talk that Talk, a Janssen campaign focusing on encouraging Black men to get regular prostate cancer screenings, approached him in 2022 to be a spokesperson.

“At the time they asked me to do it, they had no idea that I had been diagnosed and treated for prostate cancer,” he said. “There’s a 96 percent survival rate if screened early and detected early. I’m a part of that 96 percent.”

Autumn BishopStory by Autumn Bishop

Autumn is the marketing manager and content strategist at LMH Health.

Prostate cancer: Early detection saves lives

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