Raleigh General encourages prostate health awareness

September 24, 2018

Raleigh General Hospital is encouraging local residents to learn more about prostate cancer during September — Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. 

Prostate cancer is a condition often heard about, but perhaps seldom fully understood, the release said.

Dr. Faith Payne, a urologist at Raleigh General, explains that the prostate is a gland that is only found in men, located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum.

"It is an important reproductive tool because it produces some of the fluid (semen) that protects and nourishes sperm, and it surrounds the urethra – the tube that carries urine and semen out of the body," Payne said. "It’s about the size of a walnut but tends to increase in size as men age."

With the exception of skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer found in American men. According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, one out of every nine men in the U.S. will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime.

Most men with the condition are 65 and older and do not die from it, although it is still the second leading cause of cancer death among U.S. men.

"The good news is that prostate cancer is highly treatable when detected early," Payne said. "In short, all men are at risk, and the most common risk factor is age. As a man ages, his chance of getting prostate cancer increases. Beyond these basic parameters, African-American men and men with a history of prostate cancer in their family are at increased risk for developing the disease."

Symptoms can vary from person to person, and some men with prostate cancer will not present with any symptoms at all. Some signs to be on the lookout for include: difficulty with urination, including trouble starting or holding back urination, a weak or interrupted uninterrupted urine flow, pain or burning during urination, difficulty emptying your bladder fully, and frequent urination, especially at night; blood in the urine or semen; painful ejaculation; and pain in the back, hips or pelvis that does not go away. 

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your primary care provider to discuss them. It’s important to note that these symptoms are not exclusive to prostate cancer and could be caused by another condition.

While factors like age, family history and ethnicity are beyond your control, you may be able to help prevent prostate cancer through healthy lifestyle habits, including: a healthy diet; regular physical activity; avoiding taking more than 1,500 mg of calcium a day; eating more fish; avoiding trans fatty acids in foods; avoiding smoking; drinking alcoholic beverages in moderation; and reducing stress. 

For more information, visit cdc.gov/cancer/prostate/ and pcf.org.