GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - In this week's Real Men Wear Gowns story we're talking about prostate cancer. It's one of the leading causes of cancer death among men in the U.S.
“Prostate cancer is one of those problems that if you have symptoms, it's already too late to cure it,” says Dr. Laurence O’Connor, urologist with HealthPartners.
He says about 210,000 men are diagnosed every year with prostate cancer.
Dr. O’Connor says men should start getting screened every year once they hit 55. He says those screenings should start at 45 for African American men and those with a family history of prostate cancer.
“Screening for prostate cancer occurs often at a family doctor visit or perhaps with a urologist. It involves a physical examination and usually a blood test,” he says.
According to Dr. O’Connor, that blood test, called a PSA test, comes back almost immediately and is how most prostate cancer is diagnosed, even if it isn't detected on the physical exam.
Dr. O'Connor says as long as it's caught early, prostate cancer is very curable. He says 10-15 percent of people diagnosed die from it.
So, what can we be doing to fight it off?
“Prostate health is really very simple," he says. "Everything that's heart healthy is prostate healthy. So, if you're taking care of your heart by exercising and eating a regular, balanced diet, that's very healthy for your prostate as well."
Dr. O'Connor says difficulty or pain urinating, along with joint, back and neck pain, can all be symptoms of prostate cancer and should be checked out with a doctor.