Go light blue for prostate cancer awareness
Thursday, September 1, 2016
In September, anyone can be a hero and wear a light blue ribbon for National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.
But only Iron Man, Captain America, Captain Marvel, Thor and the Avengers will wear special light blue costumes. Look for them on the covers of their September issues from Marvel Comics.
Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in America. More than 220,000 men were diagnosed with it last year, second only to skin cancer. More than 27,000 men died of it last year, the second-leading cause of death among men with cancer.
That said, there are more than 2 million survivors of prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer affects the tissues of the prostate gland. It usually grows slowly. The prostate is about the size of a walnut. It is just below the bladder and in front of the rectum. It surrounds part of the urethra, which empties urine from the bladder. The prostate gland makes fluid that is part of semen.
What causes prostate cancer? That isn’t known, and there often aren’t any early warning signs.
“The problem with prostate cancer is that, really, there aren’t any symptoms of prostate cancer because it lives on the outside shell of the prostate,” says Dr. Heather M. Stefaniak, an Aurora BayCare urological surgeon.
“When it is advanced, you may see blood in the urine, difficulty with urination, but the problem with prostate cancer is that you really don’t see those until it’s advanced.”
A weak urine flow or frequent urination may be signs of prostate cancer. However, they also can be caused by prostate conditions that are not cancerous.
Researchers have pinpointed these risk factors for prostate cancer:
- Men younger than 50 rarely get prostate cancer. The risk increases as men get older. Most men with prostate cancer are 65 or older and don’t die from it.
- Men with a father, brother or son who’ve had prostate cancer have a higher-than-average risk of getting it, too.
- African-American men are more likely than white men to get prostate cancer and to die from it.
- Testosterone treatments or vitamin E and folic acid supplements can increase the risk.
- A diet high in dairy foods and calcium may cause a small increase in the risk.
“Prostate cancer is very treatable, very curable when found early,” Stefaniak says. “If prostate cancer is found early, the potential for cure is very high, a 90, 95 percent chance of you being cured if it’s caught in an early stage.”
The best way to be proactive about prostate health is to talk to your doctor about your risk factors, if any, and discuss whether you need screening tests.
Aurora BayCare Urological Surgeons perform minimally-invasive and robotic-assisted surgery for prostate cancer. We see patients in Green Bay, Two Rivers, Sturgeon Bay and Marinette. To request an appointment, call 888-437-9613 or do so online.
Heather M. Stefaniak, MD, is a board-certified urological surgeon with a subspecialty in robotic surgery. She is the founder of the robotic program at Aurora BayCare Medical Center. Along with practicing at Aurora BayCare Urological Surgeons, Dr. Stefaniak is a clinical assistant professor for the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine & Public Health. Learn more here.