Every year, more than 26,000 men and 22,000 women are diagnosed, respectively, with prostate cancer and ovarian cancer. The positive news is that, if caught early and treated immediately, both diseases have a high survival rate.
September is nationally recognized as both prostate and ovarian cancer awareness month. To keep our neighbors healthy and up to date on the current findings and procedures used to diagnose these diseases, the doctors and nurses at The Portland Clinic would like to remind all Portlanders about the symptoms of prostate and ovarian cancers and how to minimize the risk of developing these diseases.
While modern medicine has yet to discover an exact cause of prostate or ovarian cancer, there are many recognized factors that increase and decrease the potential for cancerous cell growth. Age, family health history, diet, obesity and exercise frequency are all potential contributing factors for both diseases. In some cases, ethnicity has also been shown to be a risk factor for prostate cancer—African Caribbean and African American men have a higher rate of diagnosis. In women, risk for ovarian cancer increases with age. The disease is rare under the age of 40, and half of all cases are found in women over the age of 63.
Prostate cancer is the second most common form of cancer in men next to skin cancer, yet currently more than 2 million survivors live full, healthy lives. Early warning signs of prostate cancer can be similar to other, benign conditions such as an enlarged prostate.
Regular screenings for prostate cancer are recommended by the American Urological Association for men ages 54 to 69. Risk factors can include age, ethnicity, family history, genetics and geography. For example, African American and Caribbean men are at a higher risk of prostate cancer and should consider starting regular screenings at age 40.
Prostate cancer can be monitored and treated through a variety of methods. It is very possible to return to a normal quality of life within a few months of diagnosis. Men interested in a screening, either via PSA blood test or digital rectal exam, or concerned about potential warning signs should discuss their health with their doctor.
Symptoms of prostate cancer can include:
- Blood in urine
- Pain or difficulty urinating—weak stream, urge to urinate more often
- Trouble having/keeping an erection
- Pain in the hips, back or ribs, if the cancer has spread
- Weakness in the legs
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
Ovarian cancer is diagnosed only 3 percent of the time in women with reproductive cancers, but causes more deaths than any other female reproductive system cancer. If caught in the early stages before spreading from the reproductive organs, ovarian cancer has a 90 percent survival rate, according to the American Cancer Society.
Symptoms of ovarian cancer can include:
- Pelvic or abdominal pain
- Trouble eating, lack of appetite
- Feeling the urge to urinate more often
- Upset stomach
- Back pain
- Pain during sex
- Menstrual changes
- Abdominal swelling with weight loss
Experiencing these, or a combination of symptoms, does not immediately provide a diagnosis of cancer, but, if they persist, we encourage you to contact your physician.
We understand getting tested is an anxious experience, but yearly screenings and positive adjustments are your best approach to help protect you from these diseases. The doctors and nurses at The Portland Clinic work tirelessly to detect any possibility of prostate or ovarian cancer in our patients early to increase chances of remission and survival. In the best interest of the health of Portland residents, we recommend preventive, healthy lifestyles to help fight cancer. To schedule a checkup or consultation with a doctor at The Portland Clinic, or if you have any questions concerning prostate or ovarian cancer, please call 503-223-3113 or visit ThePortlandClinic.com. (Please note, doctors and nurses at The Portland Clinic cannot provide medical advice to non-patients.)