As a member of the bipartisan Congressional Families Cancer Prevention Program ® of the
Prevent Cancer Foundation ®, I want to share the following information as we observe National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.
As your kids or grandkids head back to school this fall, set a good example by continuing to
learn as an adult. Health and science are subjects that constantly change, so it’s important to
stay up to date. Since September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, it’s a great time to learn more about the most commonly diagnosed cancer among men in U.S.
About 174,650 men in the U.S. will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2019 and more than 30,000 are expected to die of the disease. In Maryland state alone, about 3,810 will be diagnosed and 550 will die of the disease this year.
Your risk for prostate cancer increases as you age—about six in 10 cases are diagnosed in men age 65 and older. Prostate cancer is more common in African American men, who are also more than twice as likely as white men to die of the disease. Most cases occur in men who don’t have a family history of the disease, but if your father or brother was diagnosed with prostate cancer, it more than doubles your risk.
Prostate cancer screening begins with a conversation with your health cancer professional
about the potential risks and benefits of testing. Start this discussion at age 50 if you are at
average risk and expect to live at least 10 more years; at age 45 if you are at high risk, including if you are African American or have a father, brother or son who was diagnosed with prostate cancer before age 65; or at age 40 if you are at even higher risk (if you have more than one first-degree relative who had prostate cancer at an early age).
Screening can detect prostate cancer early, but neither the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test nor the digital rectal exam (DRE) is 100% effective. The PSA test is the most effective screening method, but it can still produce false positives or miss cancer cases. Some prostate cancers develop slowly and may never be dangerous enough to need treatment. If you are diagnosed with prostate cancer, you would talk with your doctor to decide whether to begin treatment or monitor the cancer closely without immediate treatment (called “watchful waiting” or “active surveillance”). Early diagnosis and treatment saves lives, but with treatment, you can also experience side effects worse than the cancer symptoms would ever be.
As with several cancers, you can make lifestyle changes to lower your risk of prostate cancer.
Maintaining a healthy weight, getting regular physical activity and eating a healthy diet with a variety of fruits and vegetables will help reduce your prostate cancer risk. To learn more, visit
Nicole Beus Harris is the spouse of Representative Andy Harris, M.D. Statistics provided by the American Cancer Society.