Prostate cancer, for reasons that are never adequately explained, has never managed to get the attention its deadliness deserves.
September was Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, and it probably passed without you even knowing it. Today’s Page 1A of The Robesonian isn’t pink. And warnings about the dangers of prostate cancer aren’t sprinkled here and there during a broadcast of an NFL football game.
So we, as part of the media, will accept blame for not outing this somewhat silent killer, and pledge to do better, beginning with today’s Our View.
Some numbers: Prostate cancer is the No. 2 cancer killer of men in this country, behind only lung cancer. Each year in the United States about a quarter million men are diagnosed with the disease, and during 2011, according to the American Cancer Society, 33,720 men will die of the disease — a figure that bumps up against the number of women who are expected to die this year with breast cancer.
Prostate cancer mostly affects men over age 50, and it’s said that all men, if they live long enough, will eventually suffer with the disease. Robeson County’s population, which is aging and disproportionately minority, is especially vulnerable to the disease. Like most cancers, it is treatable, with prostate cancer survivors leading long lives that are high in quality.
But survivability is linked directly to an early diagnosis. Too many men, because of the unpleasantness of prostate cancer exams, aren’t diligent about having regular screenings for the disease. That is something else that the disease shares with breast cancer.
Prostate cancer does little to announce its arrival. A person can suffer with the disease for an extended period of time before symptoms begin to appear. When the symptoms do, they are restricted to urination — weak stream; inability to urinate; frequent urination; burning sensation during urination; and blood in the urine.
Currently, there is a debate in the medical community about the best methods of screening for prostate cancer, with some physicians recommending against regular digital exams and others saying PSA tests aren’t dependable. Over diagnosis is a problem with prostate cancer, but we are certain that is preferred to under diagnosis.
Our message today is simply to remind our readers about the frequency of the disease, its ability to kill, the importance of screenings — and, this is the good part, the likelihood of the disease being successfully treated if detected in time, and the promise of a long and normal life that follows.