September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

COOKEVILLE — Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men. About 48,000 men are told each year they have prostate cancer – one new case every 2.1 minutes – and every 15 minutes, someone dies from the disease.

But it can be found early with screenings.

The American Urological Association recommends men ages 55-69, with an average age for prostate cancer, talk to their healthcare provider about whether prostate cancer testing is right for them. For men with higher odds of being diagnosed with prostate cancer, including African American men or men with a family history, consider talking to your healthcare provider as early as 40 years old about the benefits and risks of testing.

There are no signs and symptoms for prostate cancer. This is why screening is so important.

But, in rare cases, prostate cancer can cause symptoms. 

Contact your doctor if you experience:

  • A need to urinate frequently, especially at night, sometimes urgently
  • Difficulty starting or holding back urination
  • Weak, dribbling or interrupted flow of urine
  • Painful or burning urination
  • Difficulty in having an erection
  • A decrease in the amount of fluid ejaculated
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Blood in the urine or semen
  • Pressure or pain in the rectum
  • Pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, pelvis or thighs.

However, these symptoms don’t necessarily mean you have cancer. Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy, also known as enlargement of the prostate, are benign diseases but can cause similar symptoms and are very common.

What is the prostate exactly? It’s a small, rubbery gland about the size of a ping-pong ball deep inside the groin. It is an organ not essential for life but is important for reproduction.

There is good news though. About 90% of all prostate cancers are detected when the cancer is confined to the prostate or the region around it and treatment success rates are high compared with many other types of cancer.

Prostate cancer is diagnosed with a biopsy. The most common reason for a man to undergo prostate biopsy is due to a high prostate-specific antigen level (PSA), determined by a blood test.

There are no inherent risks to screening, but it’s important to consider timing.

When to start screening is generally based on individual risk. Ultimately, PSA screening decisions should be made on a case-by-case basis between the doctor and the patient.

Increasingly, doctors are discovering that many prostate cancers are genetic.

For those who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, there are a wide range of tools available.

Radiation therapy is the strategic use of ionizing radiation or photons to kill cancer cells. Like surgery, radiation therapy is very effective at killing localized or locally advanced prostate cancer and has the same cure rate as surgery.

Surgery to remove the prostate gland is called a radical prostatectomy and is a common option for men whose cancer has not spread. For those who have advanced or recurring cancer, other surgical procedures may be chosen, such as removal of lymph nodes, which are initial landing spots for the spread of prostate cancer.

Hormone therapy, also called androgen deprivation therapy, or ADT, is part of the standard of care for advanced and metastatic prostate cancer. It is designed to either stop testosterone from being produced or to directly block it from acting on prostate cancer cells. 

Deciding to start chemotherapy is tricky and highly individualized based on several factors, such as what other treatment options or clinical trials are available, how well it is likely to be tolerated, what prior therapies the patient has received and if radiation is needed prior to relieve pain quickly.

Other options include active surveillance, precision medicine and immunotherapy.

The five-year survival rate in the United States for men diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer is greater than 99%. The chance of a man dying from his prostate cancer is generally low, but since it comes in many forms, some men can have aggressive prostate cancer even when it appears to be confined to the prostate.

“The earlier the cancer is caught and treated, the more likely the patient will remain disease-free,” said Paul Korth, Cookeville Regional CEO. “Cookeville Regional has a fantastic group of urologists ready to address any of these symptoms and get a diagnosis fast.”

Dr. Rick Smith, urologist, talks about the PSA test in this video:

Call Upper Cumberland Urology at 931-783-4103 or visit if you need to see a urologist.

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