Prostate cancer

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September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, a good time to remind men ages 45 to 75 to consider adding a prostate cancer screening with their annual physical exam.

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in American men, according to the American Cancer Society. The good news is that with early detection, the five-year survival rate is nearly 100%.

Screening tests are typically the only way to find out if one may have prostate cancer, according to Dr. Sanjay Ramakumar, a urologist on the medical staff at Abrazo Arrowhead Campus. Screenings are recommended for men ages 45 to 75 at average risk for having the disease.

Higher risk patients such as African-Americans, those with a strong family history or gene mutation patients should be screened starting at the age of 40. Men over 75 can be screened if they are in excellent health and wish to be screened, Ramakumar added.

The majority of prostate cancers do not have symptoms. Urination difficulties can occur with enlargement of the prostate but are typically not associated with cancer, Ramakumar explained. Part of the early detection process may include a biopsy of a suspected tumor in the prostate.

“If you need a biopsy, we can target the right areas so an accurate diagnosis can be made,” Ramakumar said. “The key to treating prostate cancer is early diagnosis and an action plan based on informed decisions to meet individual needs.”

Important statistics and risk factors to be aware of regarding prostate cancer include:

•Prostate cancer is only a risk if you are male.

•Men ages 50 and older are at higher risk. Nearly two-thirds of all prostate cancers are found in men over age 65.

•Prostate cancer is more common in African-American men. It is less common in Asian-American and Hispanic men.

•Men who have a diet high in red meat or high-fat dairy foods and low in vegetables and fruits may have a greater chance of getting prostate cancer.

•Obesity has been linked with a higher risk of a more aggressive type of prostate cancer.

•Men who are in contact with toxic chemicals at work may have a higher risk for prostate cancer.

•Men with certain inherited gene changes are at higher risk for prostate cancer. However, only a small amount of prostate cancers are strongly linked to gene changes.

•Family history of prostate cancer. A father or brother with prostate cancer greatly raises a man’s risk for the disease. The risk is even higher if more than one family member has the cancer, especially if at a young age.

“Talk to your primary care physician or your urologist to find out if you’re at risk for prostate cancer,” Ramakumar said. “If you’ve been diagnosed with prostate cancer, it may feel like your world has turned upside down. It’s important to understand that you have a lot of choices. I believe that all patients should be well informed about their conditions and know their options so that they can make the best treatment decision for themselves.”

Abrazo Health is one of the largest health systems in Arizona, serving the greater Phoenix area with advanced programs in cardiovascular, neurosciences, orthopedics, spine and sports medicine, trauma and emergency services, surgical robotics, general surgery and maternity care. The Abrazo system includes Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital, Abrazo Arrowhead Campus, Abrazo Central Campus, Abrazo Cave Creek Hospital, Abrazo Scottsdale Campus, Abrazo Surprise Hospital and Abrazo West Campus — along with freestanding emergency centers, primary care and specialty physician practices and graduate medical education programs.

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