Resources for Family Caregivers of Older Adults
Prostate Cancer and Our Senior Men

Prostate Cancer and Our Senior Men

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Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the United States and the second leading cause of cancer death in men after lung cancer. The current rate of cancer in 2012 includes 241,740 newly diagnosed cases of prostate cancer and 28,170 men will die of prostate cancer. It generally strikes men after age 50 with an average age at diagnosis of 67 years old.

It is estimated that one in every six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime, which is why it must be addressed as part of Men’s Health Month.

Due to these unsettling statistics, we feel it is important to be sure that we are taking the necessary steps to learn about prostate health, get screened early if your doctor agrees and treat prostate cancer because most men who are treated promptly will survive.

What are the risk factors for prostate cancer?

Currently there are no clear studies that correlate a particular risk factor with the development of prostate cancer. However there are some patterns that have emerged.

  • Age-the risk for development increases greatly in men over 50 years and doesn’t usually strike younger men
  • African American men are more likely to be diagnosed unfortunately in the later stages when death is more likely
  • It may run in families and can actually double your risk if your father or brother has been diagnosed
  • A diet high in fat and red meat may trigger prostate cancer

Because we don’t yet know how prostate cancer is caused, prevention steps are not known at this time. Hopefully ongoing research will resolve this for us.

Ways to Detect Prostate Cancer Early

Detecting cancer without symptoms requires screening. One way to screen is to perform a blood test called a PSA or prostate-specific antigen. Another way is to have a digital rectal exam to manually determine whether the prostate gland is enlarged.

However, the research is still unclear as to when or if screening is necessary or helpful in men without symptoms. Some prostate cancer can develop so slowly that it does not harm the individual and treatment is not necessary. There are also false positive or negative tests, which mean that the accuracy of the blood test results is questionable at this time.

The American Cancer Society recommends that all men communicate with their doctors about the risks and benefits of screening beginning at age 50 for those without strong risk factors and at age 40 for those with greater risk (as described above).

It is important to get information and be ready to discuss prostate health with your senior’s doctor.

As we have said many times, knowledge is power and healthy lifestyle choices will help your senior age gracefully.

Follow up note: We have gotten some feedback from valued medical professionals recommending men at average risk be sure they fully understand the risks and potential benefits before being screened (sounds like good advice for all men). This is one area where it makes sense to get all the facts and speak frankly with the doctor before deciding how to proceed, especially since new studies don’t support some of the traditional thinking and practice.

5 Responses to Prostate Cancer and Our Senior Men

  1. I intend to share this article, & hope a lot of folks read it. It is a measure of concern to me as I get older. It has effected several men I know, and luckily for some, detected early enough. Thanks for posting,

  2. Thank you for posting this article with its current information regarding the screening and when to proceed. Our doctor gave us the same advice which we are following.

    • Thanks Rob,
      Prostate cancer is a serious disease. Screening is not for everyone and we encourage all men to have an open discussion with their doctor to determine what is best for each individual.

We'd love to hear your thoughts!





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