KNOXVILLE – Research shows that one in nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society. African-American men are more likely to get prostate cancer and twice as likely to die from the disease than their Caucasian counterparts—and no one knows exactly why.
September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, and Tennova Healthcare is taking this opportunity to educate men on the risk factors, symptoms and treatment options for prostate cancer. The health system is also drawing attention to a U.S. study that is underway to figure out why some men are at greater risk of being diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer than others.
“For many years, doctors have known that prostate cancer is more common among men of African descent than those of other racial or ethnic backgrounds,” said Nilesh Patel, M.D., a radiation oncologist at Tennova Healthcare and medical director of the Tennova Men’s Health Centers in East Tennessee. “To date, little is known about the biological reasons for these disparities or the full impact of environmental factors.”
In July, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Prostate Cancer Foundation unveiled a $26.5 million study to investigate the social, environmental and genetic factors behind the prostate cancer disparity. The NIH agencies supporting the new research are the U.S. National Cancer Institute and the U.S. National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities.
The study aims to enroll 10,000 African-American men with prostate cancer. It will investigate possible links between aggressive disease and social/environmental factors, such as poverty, early life adversity, the stress of day-to-day racism, and the lingering effects of segregation. The researchers will also analyze DNA and tumor samples to identify gene variants associated with aggressive prostate cancer.
“It’s a medical mystery why African-American men are more likely to die of prostate cancer than other groups, including White, American Indian, Hispanic, Asian or Pacific Islander,” Dr. Patel said. “Hopefully, this study will help scientists put together the pieces of the prostate cancer puzzle. The research also offers the promise for new approaches to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer.”
In addition to race and ethnicity, family history plays a role in prostate cancer risk. Having a father or brother diagnosed with prostate cancer more than doubles a man’s risk for the disease. The likelihood is even higher for men with several affected relatives, particularly if those relatives were young when their cancer was initially diagnosed.
According to Dr. Patel, prostate cancer can go undetected with no signs or symptoms for many years. More advanced prostate cancers sometimes causes symptoms, such as frequent urination, especially at night; decreased force in the stream of urine; blood in the urine or semen; trouble getting an erection (erectile dysfunction); pain in the hips, spine, ribs or other areas from cancer that has spread to bones; weakness or numbness in the legs or feet; or even loss of bladder or bowel control from cancer pressing on the spinal cord.
Routine screenings, including the PSA (prostate-specific antigen) blood test and digital rectal exam, can detect about 90 percent of prostate cancers in the early stages, when the cure rate is nearly 100 percent. Men should talk to their doctor about a prostate screening plan, especially if they fall into one of the high-risk categories, or are experiencing any urinary or sexual dysfunction symptoms.
Through its Men’s Health Centers—located at North Knoxville Medical Center, Turkey Creek Medical Center and Physicians Regional Medical Center—Tennova provides comprehensive care for men with genitourinary cancers, including prostate, testicular, bladder and kidney cancer. The expert team includes a nurse navigator, urologists and radiation oncologists who adhere to proven best practices and protocols of care. Services include:
• Screening and diagnosis
• Second opinions
• Specialized care for men at high risk
• Access to clinical trials
• Advanced cancer treatment options, including robotic-assisted surgery, radiation therapy and brachytherapy.
“While a diagnosis of prostate cancer can be devastating to a patient and his family, there are many treatment options available that can lead to good outcomes,” Dr. Patel said. “In fact, because many of these tumors are slow growing, sometimes the best course of action is careful observation or what we call ‘watchful waiting.’ The goal should always be to ensure the patient receives the right treatment at the right time to preserve and maximize his quality of life.”
For more information or to find a doctor, call 1-855-TENNOVA (836-6682) or visit Tennova.com.
Source : https://www.citizentribune.com/lifestyles/health/tennova-healthcare-draws-attention-to-the-prostate-cancer-puzzle/article_0479b1f2-b3bd-11e8-8b82-0b2f17be32b1.html789