September is National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month is observed every September in the United States by health experts and advocates, and individuals concerned with men’s prostate health.  Designating a month for the disease serves the purpose of increasing public awareness of the importance of prostate health and screenings, educating about risk factors and symptoms, and advocating for further research on prostate health issues.

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in American men.  About one in nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime.  According to the American Cancer Society, there will be about 174,650 new cases of prostate cancer and about 31,620 deaths from prostate cancer in the United States during the year 2019.

There are several risk factors associated with prostate cancer, including family history, race, diet, etc., but the most common factor is age. Prostate cancer occurs mainly in older men.  About six in ten cases are diagnosed in men aged 65 or older, and it is rare before age 40.  The average age at the time of diagnosis is about 66.

While there are a lot of risk factors for prostate cancer, there are also good survival statistics associated with the disease.  Survival rates for prostate cancer are very high.  More than 2.9 million men in the United States who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point are still alive today.

“Prostate cancer can be a serious disease, but most men diagnosed with prostate cancer do not die from it,” said Steve Karp, M.D., radiation oncologist at Cancer Treatment Center at Hazelton.  “Many men get treated for prostate cancer and continue to live healthy and normal lives.”

At the Cancer Treatment Center at Hazelton, men diagnosed with prostate cancer may be offered several types of treatments, one of which is a procedure known as brachytherapy.  In this type of treatment, which may be used alone or in a combination with daily x-ray treatments, small radioactive seeds are implanted in the prostate gland.  Guided by an ultrasound device, our physicians insert the seeds with a needle into the prostate. Over the course of several months, the seeds give off radiation to the immediate surrounding area, killing the prostate cancer cells.  In the end, the radioactive material degrades, and the seeds that remain are harmless.  Patients who undergo brachytherapy are usually allowed to return home on the same day.  Brachytherapy has been shown to provide excellent long-term success rates with minimal side effects while offering an alternative to surgical removal of the prostate gland.  Many patients also prefer this option primarily because it doesn’t require daily visits to the treatment center.

To learn more about prostate cancer, please visit the Prostate Cancer Foundation at www.pcf.org.  To find out more about how the Cancer Treatment Center at Hazelton treats prostate cancer, please click here.