If you’re a man in your mid-40s or older and have not undergone a prostate exam, you should consider doing so as soon as possible. To understand why such testing is critical for men in these age groups, we only have to look to a study published by the American Cancer Society. According to the study data, by the end of 2021, roughly 250,000 men are likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer. Of those, an estimated 34,000 are likely to lose their life to the disease.
The data further notes that these new prostate cancer cases and associated deaths will consist primarily of men in their 40s and older. While we are on the topic, it seems only appropriate to note that prostate cancer is the second-most-common cause of death among men in the United States when it comes to cancer-related deaths, lung cancer being the first. Colon, pancreas, and liver cancer make up the third, fourth, and fifth of the most deadly cancers among men, respectively.
Who Is Most at Risk of Developing Prostate Cancer?
Before delving into what prostate cancer is and why it is so common, let’s take an even closer look at just how prevalent the disease is in America. In terms of scale, the over 34,000 men expected to die from prostate cancer by the end of 2021 is about the same number of people that could fill a Major League Baseball stadium. And that averages out to roughly 91 deaths each day or about one man dying every 16 minutes. Of course, this is all based on future projections. Currently, some 3 million men in America are reportedly living with this life-altering disease. While all men are at risk of developing prostate cancer as they get older, the risk is higher for some than others. And several things go into explaining why this is the case.
Firstly, some men never undergo a digital rectal exam (DRE), which can help detect prostatic nodules that sometimes turn into cancer. Second, prostate cancer can be hereditary for some men, which means that they have inherited gene mutations that make it highly likely that they will fall victim to the disease. And this is backed by a study published by the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, which revealed that 5 to 10 percent of all men diagnosed with prostate cancer inherited gene mutations that predisposed them to the disease.
Along with inherited gene mutations and forgoing routine prostate exams, a man’s race can also increase their likelihood of developing prostate cancer. Studies show that African-American and Hispanic men are at a higher risk of developing and ultimately dying from prostate cancer. Asian men, when compared to their Caucasian counterparts, African-American, and Hispanic men, are less likely to develop or die from prostate cancer.
What Is Prostate Cancer and Why Is It So Common?
The long and short of it is that prostate cancer, aside from targeting the prostate gland, specifically, is not too dissimilar from other cancers in that it occurs as a result of changes in DNA, which is precipitated by cells within the prostate dividing uncontrollably. Along with age and race, hormone imbalances can trigger this out of control cell division that ultimately gives way to prostate cancer. For example, a study published by Science Daily revealed that men over 40 with high testosterone levels, meaning 1,100 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL) and above, are at risk of developing prostate cancer. High testosterone levels in men can result from any of the following: