It is estimated that 1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetimes. An estimated 180,000 new cases are detected annually in the United States with some 26,000 deaths attributed to this cause. While prostate cancer is generally detectable in its early phases, and quite often very treatable, the disease is still considered a silent killer by many for several good reasons.
Early screening protocols are recommended for all men as they age, but there are plenty of reasons why this disease may go undetected. Here are just a few of the reasons why prostate cancer is considered a silent killer:
* It often presents without symptoms – Prostate cancer often presents with no symptoms at first or symptoms that are easily attributable to other causes. This is one of the reasons why early screening is so important. In fact, the disease is often mistaken for an enlarged prostate, which is a relatively normal development as men age.
* It is believed to be slow growing – Some men may brush off routine exams since this form of cancer is often known to be quite slow growing. While it is true that slow growing forms of prostate cancer exist, so do highly aggressive and deadly forms. Screening and early detection are simply imperative.
* Screening tests can be a bit confusing – One of the standard tests for prostate cancer screening can be a bit confusing. The results of the prostate-specific antigen test should be double and sometimes triple checked before more aggressive screening takes place.
* Men don’t take prostate checks seriously – It is a simple reality that prostate exams are no fun for men (or their doctors). Routine screen generally calls for a digital rectal exam and possibly a blood draw for the PSA test. The truth is these simple screening procedures can and do save lives. It is best for all men to discuss screening with their healthcare providers as they age. Routine exams typically begin before the age of 50 and continue on an annual basis. Men who are at higher risk for the disease may find screening for them begins sooner.
Prostate cancer is something all men are technically at risk for. While the symptoms may not cause alarm, or may fail to show up at all in early stages, routine screenings are a vital like that can lead to lifesaving treatments. Men who are concerned about prostate cancer or who do not fully understand their risks should speak with their healthcare providers directly.