Senator Farley Says September Is Prostate Awareness Month

Hugh T. Farley

September 19, 2005

Among American men, prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer and the second leading cause of cancer deaths. One in six men will get prostate cancer in his lifetime, and one in 33 will die of the disease.

While all men are at risk for prostate cancer, the chance goes up as a man gets older. Almost all prostate cancer patients are at least 50 years old, and more than 80 percent of such patients are over 65 years old. Men with close family members who have had prostate cancer are more likely to get the disease, especially if their relatives were young when they got the disease. A diet high in fat is also a risk factor. Men who eat a lot of red meat or have a lot of high-fat dairy products in their diet seem to have a greater chance of getting prostate cancer.

The single most important factor in the successful treatment of any type of cancer is early detection. Of the 220,000 men per year diagnosed with prostate cancer, 30,000 die annually because it was not detected early. The American Cancer Society suggests that health care professionals offer a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test, which is a blood test that measures a protein produced by the prostate. High PSA levels may indicate infection, enlargement or a tumor. A digital rectal exam is also suggested by the American Cancer Society, and this test is performed by the doctor to determine if there are any lumps, enlargements, or other irregularities of the prostate.

Early state Prostate cancer in its early stages very often causes no warning signs or symptoms, which is why annual check-ups are vital. However, symptoms that may indicate prostate cancer include: weak or interrupted urine flow; inability to urinate or difficulty in starting or stopping urination; blood in the urine; and continuing pain in the lower back, pelvis or upper thighs. The earlier that cancer is discovered, the more treatment options are available to the patient. The type of treatment depends upon the patient's age, physical shape and extent of the cancer. Treatment may include surgery, radiation therapy and hormonal therapy.

Recognizing the extent of this health problem, New York State now requires insurance coverage for diagnostic prostate cancer tests for all men age 50 and older. Health care has always been a priority for the Senate, particularly legislation that ensures New Yorkers have access to simple tests that can detect cancer.

New York State also establish the Prostate and Testicular Cancer Detection and Education Advisory Council. This council was authorized by legislation in 1997 to advise the Department of Health on the promotion of prostate and testicular cancer screening and the benefits of early detection.

For more information on prostate cancer, contact: Cancer Services Program, Bureau of Chronic Disease Services, New York State Department of Health, Riverview Center, Third Floor West, Albany, NY 12204-0678