If you’re seeing more whiskers on the faces around you this month, you’re not imagining things. “Movember” is the movement to bring awareness and funds for men’s health, most famously with the annual moustache charity event in support of the most pressing concerns for men’s health from suicide prevention to cancer.
Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer in men after skin cancer. Many types of the cancer are slow growing, and when detected early, it’s highly treatable with a high survival rate. The problem is that symptoms don’t often appear in the disease’s early stages. And certain higher-risk cancers or those that have spread (metastasized) are more deadly. Most prostate cancer is detected during routine check-ups.
At this point you might be thinking, sign me up for the next screening! Certainly, a prostate screening (there are several types) is an important component of routine health exams. It’s important to keep your personal risk in mind. Some men may need to start screening as early as age 40, while others may not need to begin until age 50. Some men may need to be screened annually, while others can get checked every other year. Risk factors for prostate cancer include age, family history, race, nationality, and hormone levels. Scientists also believe a diet high in red meat and dairy and low in fruits and vegetables may increase risk.
On the other hand, prostate issues are a normal part of aging—almost 90% of men experience enlarged prostates by age 80 due to changing hormones. It might be uncomfortable, but it’s not always something to worry about. False positive tests do occur, and they can lead to unnecessary interventions such as biopsies, which carry their own risk.
What about COVID-19?
While the connection between prostate cancer and the novel coronavirus is still being explored, it’s notable that the same group is at higher risk for both: older men. And anyone who is undergoing certain treatments for cancer, such as chemotherapy, is at increased risk of contracting any virus including COVID-19. Like many other routine health procedures such as mammograms and vaccinations, the threat of the disease is also causing patients to put off screenings.
So, whether you’re “growing a mo” this month or not, take some time to talk to your doctor about your health history. A medical professional is in the best position to help you determine when to start screening for prostate cancer. If you do receive a prostate cancer diagnosis, know that many treatment options are available. Some cancers are so slow growing and occur so late, they won’t need treatment in your lifetime! But if you happen to have a higher-risk type of prostate cancer, early detection and treatment might save your life.
Schedule an appointment to speak to a QHC provider today at one of our five QueensCare Health Centers by calling (323)-635-1140.