Understanding prostate cancer: Symptoms, risks, treatment and more

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Men, we’re talking to you – for an important reason of course.

According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is the most common cancer found in men of most races and ethnicities in the U.S. Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer for African-American, Asian, Hispanic and White men – and it’s the leading cause of cancer death for Native American men.

The CDC says older men, Black men and men with a family history of prostate cancer are at greater risk, but there may not be any symptoms in the early stages of prostate cancer. When symptoms do arise, they can often be overlooked.

“The symptoms of prostate cancer, which you can go see your provider, are very common symptoms that a lot of men share,” said Dr. Jaren Trost, of Optum NM. “Whether that’s frequent urination at night, some back and abdominal pains, so it’s important that, when you get those symptoms, that you check with your doctor.”

The good news is, survival rates for prostate cancer are high. The key is to catch it early.

“The five-year survival rate for prostate cancer is around 97%, so it’s important to catch it early,” Dr. Trost said, “and what goes with that is what screen tests are available.”

Not all prostate cancer is the same. Treatments are not one-size-fits-all. Sometimes, patients won’t even need treatment.

“So prostate cancer is treated really three ways: You have chemotherapy, you have surgery or you can just observe,” Dr. Trost explained. “So it all depends on what the prostate looks like and what the exam looks like, but a lot of the time you can just observe prostate cancer and we just make sure that the patient is feeling happy and healthy.”

If you’re feeling any of the common symptoms, talk to your doctor about the next steps and possible screening for prostate cancer. The CDC says any of these symptoms should prompt a doctor visit right away:

  • Difficulty starting urination.
  • Weak or interrupted flow of urine.
  • Urinating often, especially at night.
  • Trouble emptying the bladder completely.
  • Pain or burning during urination.
  • Blood in the urine or semen.
  • Pain in the back, hips, or pelvis that doesn’t go away.
  • Painful ejaculation.