(NECN: Kristen Carosa) – It was an important day when it comes to men's health: fifth annual prostate cancer awareness day in Massachusetts.
The day was established in order to raise awareness and recognize prostate cancer as a public health priority.
“This is a very important cancer,” says Dr. Jennifer Yates, a urologist at UMass Memorial. “It’s one of the most common cancers that affects men.”
Dr. Yates recommends that men over the age of 55 have a conversation about getting screened for prostate cancer.
“We have a couple of tools that help us screen including a rectal exam and a blood test - the scary thing is a lot of men don't have symptoms until the cancer has become advanced.”
September 12th has been marked as prostate cancer awareness day. It was established in 2009 to recognize the disease as a public health priority.
More than 5,000 men are diagnosed in Massachusetts each year.
Dr. Yates says the awareness day is a time to educate men about the benefits of screening.
“The patient makes the decision; the doctor is responsible for educating the patient and decided whether screening is worth pursuing.”
Dr. Yates says screening can be done at the doctor's office after a conversation with your physician.
“What they will talk about is their age, their medical history, their family history, their race - anything that would put this man at higher risk for cancer.”
She says detection and treatment remain the best way to fight advanced prostate cancer.
“When the cancer becomes advanced it causes bone pain, it can cause difficulty with urination - blood in the urine but again - typically men have no symptoms.”
And while screening is recommended, Dr. Yates says there are some risks.
“The risk is that we over diagnose prostate cancer - meaning some men may have cancer that will never be a problem for them.”
Despite that, she says she knows the importance of screening and if caught early, the survival rate is high.
“It’s important to acknowledge it and remind our loved ones that this is something that we need think about and tell our fathers, our brothers and our grandfathers to get screened if they are in the appropriate age group.”