We have prepared this page to provide general information about Prostate Cancer, screening, risk factors and services.
Please see "Health Information & Talking Points with Your Doctor," a new publication that attempts to answer the question people frequently ask us: "What should we do about prevention, testing and treatments for cancer?"
We invite you to also access information for the women partners of men who have been diagnosed with Prostate Cancer on The Woman's Page.
The Gay and Bisexual Man's page includes resources for gay or bisexual men with Prostate Cancer.
Please also see the Prostate Cancer Screening Information page which provides the latest information about screening and treatment and read about Active Surveillance on this new resource page.
Bone Health and Prostate Cancer: The recent report recognizes the importance of addressing bone health as a part of prostate cancer treatment, and the need for improved dialogue between patients and their healthcare providers on the subject. The results of the survey of patients, urologists and medical oncologists, along with in-depth interviews with men with prostate cancer, are included. Here are some resources:
- Maintaining Bone Health During ADT for Prostate Cancer - by Paul R. Sieber, MD, FACS.
- Bone health and prostate cancer: when should it be considered and investigated? - by Brendan J Nolan and Mathis GrossmanBrendan J Nolan and Mathis Grossman
General Information about Prostate Cancer
What is the Prostate?
The prostate is part of the male reproductive system. About the size of a walnut, the prostate is located just below the bladder, in front of the rectum and wraps around the urethra. The main purpose of the prostate is to produce semen.
What is Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer is an uncontrolled growth of cells in the prostate gland that may spread to other parts of the body. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer found in men and strikes one in six American men. The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that each year 1,460 Maine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and 170 will die of the disease. By comparison, 1,040 Maine women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 200 will die of the disease.
What are the Symptoms?
Prostate cancer presents few symptoms. In rare cases the following may occur:
- Frequent urination
- Inability to urinate
- Trouble starting/holding back urine
- Weak/interrupted urine flow
- Blood in urine or semen
- Frequent lower back/hip/thigh pain
Because these symptoms can also be caused by other disorders, men should undergo a complete medical exam to determine the underlying cause.
Screening and Risk Factors
There are various national recommendations for prostate cancer screening. The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends that men have a chance to make an informed decision with their health care provider about whether to be screened for prostate cancer. The decision should be made after getting information about the uncertainties, risks, and potential benefits of prostate cancer screening. Men should not be screened unless they have received this information. Screening should take place at :
- age 50 for men who are of average risk and are expected to live for at least 10 more years
- age 45 for men at high risk - African-American men and men who have a first degree relative who was diagnosed younger than age 65
- age 40 for men who have more that one first degree relative who had prostate cancer at an early age
The Maine Coalition to Fight Prostate Cancer follows guidelines set by the National Alliance of State Prostate Cancer Coalitions. This group recommends that men obtain a baseline screening at age 40 and then annually. Men in the following high-risk groups should begin screening at age 35.
- African American men
- Men with a family history of prostate cancer
- Men who eat a high fat diet
According to the National Cancer Institute, cases diagnosed early have a 100% chance of survival for at least five years. Cases diagnosed late, when the cancer has spread to distant parts of the body, have only a 33% chance of survival after five year's.
Types of Screening
Screening for prostate cancer can be performed quickly and easily using a combination two tests: a digital rectal exam (DRE) and a prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test. If the physician feels something abnormal in the DRE, or the PSA number is suspicious, the diagnosis of prostate cancer must be confirmed by a biopsy. The PSA blood test is very simple, and the DRE is brief and practically painless ... and they can save your life.
Pain Managed Biopsies
Prior to your prostate biopsy, we suggest you discuss the question of "pain management" with your doctor as you have the option of an anesthetic for this procedure. Biopsies with a local anesthetic are well tolerated and there are various forms of anesthetic available.
We also suggest you ask your doctor to explain what will occur during the procedure and what to expect after the biopsy. If you wish you could also ask your physician if a spouse, partner or friend could stay with you.
If prostate cancer is diagnosed, there are numerous treatment options for men. Treatment choices for men with early-stage cancer include active surveillance. There are many forms of surgery including robotic, retropubic prostatectomy and cryosurgery. Radiation therapy might be either external beam or brachytherapy. Hormone therapy is also a choice. New treatments are always being developed. The patient, his family and his physician must evaluate each option carefully to select the treatment that is best for his age, stage of the disease, side effects and overall health. The Maine Coalition to Fight Prostate Cancer encourages all men to get early, annual screenings for prostate cancer and to educate themselves about this disease.
Choosing a Physician
Your family doctor or internist will be your partners in helping you navigate the system and can recommend urologists and oncologists (doctors who specialize in cancer and it's treatment) as needed.
Prostate Cancer in Maine
The National Cancer Institute estimates that in 2018, in Maine, 860 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer and that 159 men died due to the disease. Prostate Cancer Deaths in Maine (by county) (approximated)
- Androscoggin 7
- Aroostook 9
- Cumberland 28
- Franklin fewer than 3
- Hancock 7
- Kennebec 16
- Knox 5
- Lincoln 4
- Oxford 5
- Penobscot 13
- Piscataquis fewer than 3
- Sagadahoc 7
- Somerset 6
- Waldo 4
- Washington 7
- York 23
If You Do Nothing Else . . .
Tell a friend - early detection saves lives!
This is a link to a bibliography of suggested reading [PDF - plugin required] on the topic of prostate cancer.