Every September, National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month presents an opportunity to increase awareness and discussion on prostate cancer, the second most common type of cancer among men in the U.S.
Nearly one in eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetimes. The American Cancer Society estimates there will be 248,530 new cases diagnosed in 2021, and 34,130 deaths will be attributed to prostate cancer.
While these statistics may come as an unsettling shock, the disease is survivable. In fact, more than 3.1 million men in the U.S. who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer are still alive today.
Early detection, effective treatments and continued research are our best allies in the battle against prostate cancer.
Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is more likely to develop among older men. That means the older a man is, the greater the chance of getting prostate cancer. Approximately six in every ten cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed in men 65 and older, and the average age at diagnosis is around 66.
Family history, race and diet are also risk factors associated with the disease. Men have a higher chance of getting or dying from the disease if they have family history of prostate cancer.
Detecting Prostate Cancer Early
Prostate cancer can be found early by testing for prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels in a man’s blood or with a digital rectal exam. Rectal exams are performed by a doctor who feels for any bumps or hard areas on the prostate that might be cancerous. The procedure can be uncomfortable but only requires a short amount of time.
Screening tests remain the most effective way to detect prostate cancer at an early stage, which allows patients to have more treatment options and higher survival rates.
Prostate Cancer Treatment and Radiation Therapy
When it comes to treating prostate cancer, it’s not a question of which treatment is better but rather which option best fits the patient’s specific needs. There are many factors to consider when recommending treatment, some of which include:
- The wishes of the patient.
- The stage of cancer.
- The patient’s age and health.
- The recurrence of prostate cancer.
Most men with prostate cancer are diagnosed early, when the cancer hasn’t spread beyond the prostate gland. In this case, more management options are available, some of the most common include radiation therapy and surgery. In fact, some patients require no treatment and can be carefully monitored.
Fortunately, if radiation therapy is recommended, advances in technology have dramatically improved. Radiation therapy serves as safe and effective treatment for prostate cancer and uses high-energy rays to precisely target and destroy cancer cells.
Radiation techniques have greatly improved in minimizing the side effects of treatment so that patients can return to their daily lives following each treatment. Using industry-leading machines, patients can complete a full course of radiation with little inconvenience due to more highly effective methods of prostate cancer treatment.
You might find it helpful to discuss your decision with family, friends or more than one medical opinion. At Advocate Radiation Oncology, we continue to stand proudly with our patients in their fight against prostate cancer.
Note: This article was originally published in the September 2021 issue of SWFL Health & Wellness. The monthly magazine provides information that promotes living a healthy, well-balanced lifestyle.
READ THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE: What men should know about prostate cancer and radiation therapy
About the Author
Kevin Kozak, M.D., Ph.D., is a board-certified radiation oncologist committed to improving cancer patient outcomes. An expert in the treatment of brain tumors and prostate, breast and lung cancers, Dr. Kozak holds seven patents and has authored 80 peer-reviewed academic journal articles.
Dr. Kozak graduated magna cum laude with highest honors from Harvard University on a Navy ROTC scholarship. As an Aviation Intelligence Officer, he received Navy Achievement and Navy Commendation medals. Next, Dr. Kozak earned an M.D. and Ph.D. in biochemistry at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine before returning to Harvard to complete his radiation oncology training and postgraduate studies in tumor vascular biology.
At the University of Wisconsin, Dr. Kozak directed a cancer biology laboratory. He then served as Mercy Health System’s chief of radiation oncology, and later its director of oncology services. Simultaneously, he also served as chief medical officer for two cancer-focused, bio-pharmaceutical companies and remains a scientific advisor for a radio-pharmaceutical startup.
Outside of work, Dr. Kozak enjoys fishing, traveling, and playing golf. Born and raised in Wisconsin, Dr. Kozak dedicates Sundays to his beloved Green Bay Packers.
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