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In 2015, for every 100,000 men tested, doctors diagnosed 99 men with prostate cancer. Aside from skin cancer, prostate cancer is more prevalent and deadly than any other cancer. Early detection can be a key factor in defeating aggressive and non-aggressive types of the disease. Living with prostate cancer can mean spending time in treatment, but it can also mean struggling with the financial toxicity that often comes with cancer.
Prostate cancer occurs on the gland when malignant cells form a tumor. You can also have a non-malignant tumor, so the presence of abnormal cells doesn’t always lead to or mean you have cancer.
Doctors categorize cancer into two major types: aggressive and nonaggressive. Each type relates to how the tumor grows. Aggressive cancer, for example, multiplies rapidly and spreads to other areas of the body. Nonaggressive prostate cancer either doesn’t grow or does so slowly.
Noncancerous growths might not require treatment. However, your doctor and you should weigh the risks of removing it since these types of growths could develop into cancer or increase your risks.
• Urination issues, such as frequency, slower stream, or loss of pressure
• Loss of bladder and bowel function
• Blood present in semen and/or urine
• Erectile dysfunction
• Pain, weakness, or numbness in your feet or legs
• Pain in your hips, back, chest and surrounding areas; discomfort can radiate outward in advanced cancer that’s spread
Many of these symptoms can coincide or present like other non-cancer conditions. It’s best to have your doctor perform a physical exam or blood tests to rule out other contributing factors too.
If you have any of the symptoms for prostate cancer or the medical conditions listed above, you should seek your health care provider for proper diagnosis.
In some cases, the science doesn’t agree or needs additional research. However, enough evidence exists for doctors and scientists to inform the public of the additional risk factors associated with the list.
For example, eating red meat and being obese doesn’t mean you will have or get prostate cancer. They might place you in a higher risk category. At the same time, someone in a low risk category, in perfect health, and following a healthy lifestyle can still have prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer has no early symptoms. By the time you have symptoms, if it’s indeed cancer, it could’ve already spread to other parts of your body.
Some men might not have actual symptoms until years after their initial diagnosis too. This is why screenings can be important since it allows doctors and you more freedom in how to treat your cancer.
For some, you’ll choose a wait and see approach while others will require immediate treatment. It largely depends on your age and the aggressiveness of present cancer.
Doctors at the American Cancer Society recommend screenings, which helps identify prostate cancer in its earliest stage.
Prostate cancer screening isn’t without risks. However, with medical advances your testing options have expanded to include additional options:
Depending on your testing outcomes, your doctor might want to perform a MRI, CT, or a bone scan to determine whether you have cancer. In some cases, these tests show abnormalities in the prostate but you’re receiving the test for an unrelated condition.
A biopsy might also be necessary for proper diagnosis, which includes removing a tiny part of your prostate gland for a doctor to examine further. Your results receive a Gleason score, which pathologists use as a grading tool for cancer cells. The lower your number, the better your chances are that it’s not cancer.
If you receive a low Gleason score, your doctor might recommend repeating the test in another two years. At this point, they’ve ruled out prostate cancer as the cause of your symptoms.
Your doctor will speak with you about courses of treatment should your Gleason score return with a number of seven or higher.
There are no known ways to prevent prostate cancer fully. Age, race, and your genetics play a major role.
You can take steps to lower your risk factors. Proper diet low in dairy and red meat consumption, daily exercise, and other lifestyle choices, such as quitting smoking, are a good place to start.
An experience of prostate cancer can have a significant personal, work‐life and financial impact on men and their families. Despite the prolific body of evidence on prostate cancer diagnoses and treatments, little research exists on the economic burden faced by those directly affected by prostate cancer. Two US studies showed that the majority of expenses occurred during the first 6 months of treatment and men felt reasonably comfortable in paying up to $5000 in medical payments.
Economic burden covers the out‐of‐pocket medical and non‐medical expenses of receiving medical care, the impact on an individual's employment situation and on a caregiver's employment. Cancer treatments can be prolonged and fragmented across health services and unexpected medical and related expenses can rapidly accrue. Understanding these impacts is important to educate patients about treatments, to support individual health care choices, to help plan and implement social support services and enable equitable and sustainable health policy.
Are you currently looking to purchase a life insurance policy, but are in fear of high rates or being declined? Depending on your specific treatment and overall health, purchasing an affordable life insurance policy to protect your loved ones may be easier than you think.
A few years ago, when Warren Buffet’s diagnosis of prostate cancer made headlines, Buffet himself was quoted as saying that his prostate cancer was “not life-threatening.” A routine PSA test caught Buffet’s cancer early, and by treating this cancer before it spread, he was able to make close to a complete recovery.
The main risk factor that life insurance companies look at when it comes to prostate cancer is the age of diagnosis. Prostate cancer affects about 40% of men that are in their seventies, about 70% of men in their eighties, and after the age of 90, almost every man will have prostate issues. At the same time, it is extremely rare to see men diagnosed with prostate cancer before the age of 40.
This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author. This content has not been paid for by any advertiser nor does WhipCancer.org recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. WhipCancer.org does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and information contained on this site is intended for informational purposes only. Please seek the advice of your physician or other professional healthcare provider with any questions you may have.