Although its mortality rate has steadily fallen in the last decade, prostate cancer is still the second leading cause of cancer deaths among men in the United States. It is estimated that about one in six men in the U.S. will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime and one in 36 will die from this disease. National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month gives us the opportunity to renew our commitment to fight this disease by finding better ways to prevent, detect and treat it.
The exact causes of prostate cancer are not known, but awareness can help men make more informed choices about their health. Researchers have identified several factors that may increase a man's risk of developing prostate cancer, including age, race and family history.
The American Cancer Society helps men stay well by providing information about how to reduce the risk of prostate cancer through lifestyle changes. Based on available scientific evidence, the ACS recommends that men eat less red meat and fat, and eat more vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Men should eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. These recommendations may help reduce a man's risk for prostate and other cancers, as well as other diseases.
The American Cancer Society helps men stay well by providing important information and recommendations about prostate cancer screening. The ACS released updated recommendations in March 2010 urging that men have an opportunity to make an informed decision with their health care provider about whether to be screened for prostate cancer after receiving information about the uncertainties, risks and potential benefits of screening. Men at higher risk, including African-American men, should receive this information beginning at age 45. It's important for men to be educated about the benefits and limitations of screening because there is actually a lack of scientific evidence proving that screening all men for prostate cancer would save lives. Screening can result in unnecessary treatment, which in turn can have serious side effects, including incontinence and erectile dysfunction.
Because of the toll prostate cancer has on the lives of so many people, the American Cancer Society is currently investing more than $55 million in 98 different prostate cancer research projects nationwide. We help prostate cancer patients who are undergoing treatment away from home with lodging during treatment and offer free lodging at 28 American Cancer Society Hope Lodge facilities throughout the nation, including the Mayo Clinic and the University of Iowa Hospitals. Whether it's the middle of the day or the middle of the night, we're here around the clock to guide people facing prostate cancer through every step of their cancer experience. Visit us at cancer.org or call (800) 227-2345.
Despite the important burden of prostate cancer cases and deaths and extensive research on its causes, prevention, early detection and treatment, many uncertainties remain about this cancer. The American Cancer Society is dedicated to finding the answers that will help save lives from prostate cancer and create a world with more birthdays.
Liddy Hora handles community relations for the American Cancer Society in a five-county area that includes Webster County.