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Everything You Need to Know About Prostate Health

Everything You Need to Know About Prostate Health

June is Men’s Health Month, a time to shine a light on the unique health challenges men face and to encourage the men in our lives to be proactive about their health. One of the most important aspects of men’s health, especially as we age, is prostate health.

Understanding the Prostate

The prostate is a small gland that plays an important role in the male reproductive system. It is about the size of a walnut and is located just below the bladder. Its primary function is to help in producing and transporting semen, the fluid that carries sperm. Only males, or people assigned male at birth, have a prostate.

“Prostate cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in men,” says Dr. David Boyce, Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center. ”Early detection is very important in the battle against prostate cancer as when it is caught early, excellent cure rates can be achieved. Men over the age of 55 should discuss prostate screening options with their primary care providers in order to develop a personalized approach to risk stratification and early detection.”

Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in the United States, affecting about 1 in 8 men. It is usually diagnosed in men aged 65 or older, and those who have a father or brother with prostate cancer are at twice the risk of developing the disease.

Prostate cancer may show no signs or symptoms in its early stages, but more advanced cases may cause any of the following:

  • Trouble urinating
  • Decreased force in the stream of urine
  • Blood in the urine
  • Blood in the semen
  • Bone pain
  • Losing weight without trying
  • Erectile dysfunction

Benign Prostate Hyperplasia

When a man reaches age 40, the prostate gradually begins to grow from the size of a walnut to about the size of a lemon. This growth, known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), affects nearly all men by the time they are 85. It is not cancerous, and it does not increase your risk of prostate cancer.

However, since the prostate surrounds the urethra, growth caused by BPH can lead to symptoms such as slow or dribbling urination, incontinence, sudden urges to urinate, or painful urination. Men with these symptoms should talk to their doctor, not only to rule out prostate cancer, but also to receive treatment that will prevent BPH from progressing.


Prostatitis is an inflammation of the prostate gland caused by infection, injury, or an immune system disorder. It can cause symptoms similar to BPH, as well as pain in the lower abdomen, genitals or lower back, or flu-like symptoms like fever, body aches and chills. Prostatitis affects men of all ages — in fact, it is the most common urinary tract problem for men younger than 50. Those with symptoms should see a doctor for diagnosis, especially if symptoms come on suddenly.

Getting Screened for Prostate Cancer

The earlier a man discovers prostate cancer, the better his outlook is for survival. However, since prostate cancer may have no symptoms in its early stages, screening tests are key. Two common prostate cancer screenings are prostate-specific antigen tests and digital rectal exams.

Prostate-specific antigen tests measure how much PSA — a protein produced by the prostate — is in the blood. Since prostate cancer tends to produce higher levels of PSA, an elevated reading on this test may indicate cancer.

A digital rectal exam is a test in which a doctor examines the lower rectum, anus and prostate gland. During the exam, your doctor inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into your rectum and feels the back wall of the prostate for enlargement, lumps or hard spots.

Knowing which form of screening is right for you depends on your age and risk level. The American Cancer Society recommends men talk to their physicians about prostate screening based on the following matrix:

  • At age 50, if you are at average risk of prostate cancer and are expected to live at least 10 more years.
  • At age 45 if you are at high risk of developing prostate cancer. This includes African American men and men who have a father or brother diagnosed with prostate cancer at an early age (younger than age 65).
  • At age 40 if you have an even higher risk, including those with more than one first-degree relative who had prostate cancer at an early age.

Maintaining Prostate Health

There is no sure way to prevent prostate cancer, but there are some lifestyle choices men can make to lower risk while improving overall health. The “8IGHTWAYS® to Stay Healthy and Prevent Cancer,” developed by the Siteman Cancer Center, offers these eight suggestions for overall cancer prevention:

  1. Maintain a Healthy Weight
  2. Exercise Regularly
  3. Don’t Smoke or Use Smokeless Tobacco
  4. Eat a Healthy Diet
  5. Limit Alcohol - Zero is Best
  6. Protect Yourself from the Sun and Avoid Tanning Beds
  7. Protect Yourself from STIs
  8. Get Screening Tests

Certain lifestyle changes can be difficult to make, but you’re not alone. Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center is here to help. With a dedicated team of primary care professionals, as well as a Healthy Lifestyle Support Group, Weight Center, and other wellness programs, support is just a call away.

Early Detection at the Richard E. Winter Cancer Center

For those concerned about prostate cancer, timely screening and access to cutting-edge treatment options are vital. One significant advancement in prostate cancer detection is the Pylarify/PSMA PET scan, a highly specialized imaging technique offered exclusively at the Richard E. Winter Cancer Center.

The only screening of its kind in the North Country, the Pylarify/PSMA PET scan provides unparalleled accuracy in identifying and staging prostate cancer, offering patients and their healthcare providers valuable insights for tailored treatment plans. This advanced technology is a game-changer in the fight against prostate cancer, enabling earlier detection and more precise treatment strategies.

At the Richard E. Winter Cancer Center, patients not only benefit from state-of-the-art diagnostic tools like the Pylarify/PSMA PET scan but also from a multidisciplinary team of experts dedicated to providing comprehensive care every step of the way. From diagnosis to treatment and beyond, our commitment is to empower patients with the resources and support they need to navigate their prostate cancer journey with confidence and optimism.

If you have concerns about prostate health or are considering screening for prostate cancer, we encourage you to reach out to our team at the Richard E Winter Cancer Center. Your health and well-being are our top priorities, and we're here to ensure you receive the highest quality care available.

Contact the Richard E. Winter Cancer Center to schedule your prostate screening today at 315.393.2314.