Harford Health Department seeks to increase awareness of prostate health, cancer risk

August 29, 2013|AEGIS STAFF REPORT

September marks Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, and with prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in men in the United States, the Harford County Health Department urges men to consider the facts about prostate cancer and the importance of a healthy prostate.

In 2013, The American Cancer Society estimates that 4,880 men in Maryland will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and 560 will die from it this year, while across the country, approximately 238,590 men will be diagnosed and 38,460 will die from this cancer this year.

Physicians can screen for prostate cancer quickly and easily in their office using two tests: the PSA (prostate-specific antigen) blood test and the digital rectal exam (DRE). Typically, prostate cancer that is detected by screening is in its very early stages and can be treated most effectively, when more treatment options are available and with potentially fewer side effects. It also can indicate the presence of other prostate diseases or disorders.

"It is very important that men communicate with their doctors in order to make informed decisions about whether to be screened based on their risk factors, personal values and preferences," Harford County Health Officer Susan Kelly said.

The Harford County Health Department wants the public to know that often, prostate cancer in its earliest stages has no symptoms, which include blood in the urine, frequent urination (especially at night), weak or interrupted urine flow, pain or a burning feeling while urinating and constant pain in the lower back, pelvis or upper thighs. Men should consult with their health care provider if any of these symptoms occur.

Although the chance of a man getting prostate cancer increases with age, other risk factors include having a family history and being African American. Even though it is not yet known how to prevent prostate cancer, not smoking, having a healthy diet, being physically active and maintaining a healthy weight can help to lower the risk of many types of cancer, while also reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke.

For more information about prostate cancer, call the Harford County Health Department, 410-612-1780, or contact the 24-hour line of the American Cancer Society's cancer information specialist at 1-800-ACS-2345 (1-800-227-2345).

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