Before the month slips into October and the approaching winter season, it is essential to note that September also is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.
That should matter to people nationwide because prostate cancer each year kills more than 29,000 men. It is the second leading cause of cancer deaths of men in America, and the highest incidence of the disease in the world is among African American men.
However, if diagnosed early, the five-year survival rate is nearly 100 percent. Ten years post-diagnoses, 98 percent of men diagnosed early remain alive, the Prostate Cancer Foundation reports.
It’s important to note that not all prostate cancer is alike. Some forms are aggressive and lethal. Others are nonaggressive and nonlife-threatening.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that prostate cancers usually grow slowly. It affects most men older than age 65.
Some symptoms of prostate cancer include difficulty urinating, frequent urination (especially at night), weak or interrupted flow of urine, and blood in the urine or semen. Men at a greater chance of getting prostate cancer are African Americans or others whose father, brother or son has had prostate cancer.
Men should have annual physical exams that include doctors checking their prostate to ensure that it is healthy. That exam is nothing anyone would characterize as pleasant. However, it is necessary particularly for men past age 45.
Blood tests involve measuring levels of PSA, or prostate specific antigens. It is a substance made by the prostate. PSA levels in the blood can be higher in men who have prostate cancer.
“A PSA test can find prostate cancer earlier than no screening at all,” the CDC reports. Men and their families are advised to talk with their doctors.
▪ Make it easier. You are his biggest support system. Help him by researching treatment options, health facilities that make him feel comfortable, and listen to his needs.
▪ Observe what activities make him happy and do them together. Make it fun! Being healthy does not have to be painful or hard. Look for fun ways to build exercise into your routine, or cook a healthy meal together. Be sure to go with his energy, and stay away from forcing activities when he’s not in a great mood.
▪ Attend doctor’s appointments and ask questions! Be sure to not be overbearing. Sometimes playing that role can actually make his communication with you worse and overwhelm you both. Remember nagging = resistance.
▪ Lead by example! Women have a huge influence over the health care decisions of their spouse. When you get your annual physical, make sure he gets his, too, even if that means making the appointment for him.
▪ Men are competitive at heart. Make it a game and celebrate small and large victories together. Did he choose salad instead of steak? Make his physical appointment without you nagging him? Praise him, and show him the benefits. It’s more likely he will do it again.
Men’s kids — young and old — can contribute to the encouragement, too. Remember, the goal is for men diagnosed with prostate cancer to live longer healthier lives. Prostate Cancer Awareness Month helps.