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FOR RELEASE: September 12, 2002
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer, other than skin cancer, among men in the United States. The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) is encouraging all men to participate in Prostate Cancer Awareness Month by discussing their risk with their healthcare provider.

Nationwide, the American Cancer Society estimates that 189,000 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed and that approximately 30,200 men will die of the disease in 2002. In Oklahoma, more than 400 men die each year from prostate cancer.

The most effective method of diagnosing prostate cancer is routine screening using digital rectal exam and prostate specific antigen (PSA). A digital rectal exam test examines the prostate gland for enlargement. The physician uses a gloved finger in the rectum to check for enlargement of the prostate gland. The PSA is a blood test used to measure the protein from the prostate in the blood.

There are some risk factors associated with prostate cancer. However, just because you don’t have one of the risk factors, doesn’t mean that you won’t get prostate cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), these risk factors contribute to prostate cancer:

  • Age - Simply growing older increases a man’s risk for getting prostate cancer. Eighty percent of prostate cancers are found in men over the age of 65.
  • Race - African American men have the world’s highest incidence of prostate cancer. African American men are twice as likely to have prostate cancer than white men.
  • Family history - If your father or brother has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, you are at higher risk.

Prostate cancer is a slow progressing disease, so some men may have the disease and not know it. During the early stages of prostate cancer, there may not be any signs or symptoms. The warning signs and symptoms of prostate cancer include: difficulty urinating, weak stream, frequent urge to urinate (especially at night), painful or burning urination, blood in the urine, and back pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, or upper thighs.

The American Cancer Society and American Urological Association recommends that men over the age of 50 should have a digital rectal exam and the prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test annually.

There is insufficient scientific evidence to determine if prostate cancer screening ultimately reduces deaths in populations. Therefore, schedule time this month with your healthcare provider to discuss the best prostate cancer screening plan for you and your health. It is important that you make an informed decision.

For more information about prostate cancer screenings, contact your local healthcare provider or call the Cancer Information Services of the National Cancer Institute at 1-800-422-6237.

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