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Prostate Cancer Awareness Month 2022
- What do you know about prostate cancer? Did you know that age is the most common risk factor for prostate cancer?
- Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers affecting men in America, behind skin cancer.
- Prostate Cancer Awareness Month takes place in September. This recognition brings attention under-reported and under-diagnosed cancers in men. The goal is to reduce the shame and stigma in discussing prostate cancer, to improve patient outcomes.
MPH, MSN, WHNP-BC
Prostate Cancer Awareness Month
September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.
The prostate is an internal organ in the male reproductive system that produces fluid to help with sperm function.
Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers affecting the American population and one of the most common cancers affecting men.
This type of cancer is getting more visibility in mainstream media and nursing practices as the aging population increases. More men are speaking up about their experiences with prostate cancer.
What Is Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer is cancer of the prostate. Given the anatomical nature of the prostate, it is often a topic that can be touchy for some men. There might be concerns about something going on “down there” or “near one’s bottom,” both of which can carry stigma and shame for some men.
Naturally, as men age, the prostate tends to increase in size. This doesn’t happen at the same pace or always in all men, but aging can cause several changes in the body.
While there are other health conditions that can affect the prostate, such as benign prostatic hyperplasia or inflammation of the prostate, prostate cancer remains a serious health concern for several men.
Since prostate cancer can have differing clinical presentations across patients, routine screening and education are essential to avoid improper treatment.
How Common Is Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers affecting men in America. In 2019, there were approximately 220,000 new cases of prostate cancer.
This is only an estimation as many men do not discuss their reproductive health concerns with their provider, causing prostate cancer to sometimes be underdiagnosed and underreported.
If prostate cancer is left undetected and untreated, it can lead to chronic pelvic pain, cancer spreading to other parts of the body, decreased quality of life, and perpetual concerns with urination and ejaculation.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms?
Prostate cancer is unique in that many people have different symptoms, while some people have no symptoms.
Some common signs and symptoms of prostate cancer include:
- Having difficulty with urination, either starting to urinate or maintaining urination
- Urinating more frequently at night
- Seeing blood in semen or urine
- Experiencing painful ejaculation
- Feeling consistent pain in the pelvis, hips, or back
What Causes Prostate Cancer?
Unfortunately, there is no single known cause for prostate cancer. There are several theories on prostate cancer’s cause, but no definite answer.
Who Is at Risk for Prostate Cancer?
Some risk factors for prostate cancer include:
- Age, as the older someone gets, the greater the likelihood of getting prostate cancer
- Family history of prostate cancer, especially in first-degree relatives (such as a father, brother, or uncle)
- Family history of breast, ovarian, or pancreatic cancer
It is also important to note that African American men are more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than men of other races, that they are twice as likely to die from prostate cancer, and they are more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer at a younger age.
Health disparities, such as medical racism and a lack of access to health care services, play a significant role prostate cancer diagnosis and management among African American men.
The purpose of Prostate Cancer Awareness Month is to bring attention and awareness to complexities of prostate cancer such as health disparities, risk factors etc. to improve patient outcomes and to direct a focus for research.
How Is It Diagnosed?
There is no single test to diagnose prostate cancer. Prostate cancer diagnosis is often done through blood tests, a digital rectal examination, patient history, and a physical exam.
How Is It Managed?
Prostate cancer can be managed with radiation therapy, surgery, or expectant management. It is important to note that there is no one single way to manage prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer management is something to be discussed with your health care provider and care team to determine the best course of action for your needs and health goals.
The Bottom Line on Prostate Cancer Awareness Month
It is crucial for nurses to recognize that there are several reasons why someone would not want to discuss their reproductive health concerns. There are people who have had negative experiences with the health care system, people with cultural differences, and people who have religious beliefs who might not feel comfortable discussing their reproductive health concerns.
By providing that safer space and having a non-judgmental approach, you can work to establish trust between yourself and the patient. This can provide an opportunity discuss health screening and provide as much education as possible.
Prostate Cancer Awareness Month exists because prostate cancer can be uncomfortable to discuss, but the more knowledgeable a nurse can be, the more likely one can recognize signs or symptoms, as well as provide an open dialogue with patients. All these combined can improve patient outcomes and normalize the conversation about prostate cancer.
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