Back to Top Skip to main content

Prostate Cancer Awareness Month: Empowering patients

During September, the Military Health System is encouraging men to learn more about prostate cancer. Patients can discuss with their providers the risks and benefits of a prostate-specific antigen blood test, also known as a PSA test. (U.S. Navy photo by Jacob Sippel) During September, the Military Health System is encouraging men to learn more about prostate cancer. Patients can discuss with their providers the risks and benefits of a prostate-specific antigen blood test, also known as a PSA test. (U.S. Navy photo by Jacob Sippel)

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Men's Health

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among males, second only to skin cancer, and affects more than 3 million men in the United States, according to the National Cancer Institute. During Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, health care providers are encouraging men of all ages – especially those with a family history – to learn more about the disease.

“Prostate cancer can impact all men,” said Army Col. Inger Rosner, director of the Department of Defense Center for Prostate Disease Research at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. “It’s important for men to know if they want to be screened, how and when to be screened, and what their treatment options are if diagnosed, so that they can be equipped to make decisions that are best for their health.”

The National Institutes of Health estimates that nearly 165,000 men in the U.S. will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2018. Although the disease is the second leading cause of cancer death among men in the U.S., it’s a very slow-growing disease, NIH says. Nearly all of those who get prostate cancer – more than 98 percent – are alive five years after diagnosis.

Symptoms can include weak or interrupted flow of urine, sudden urge to urinate, frequent urination, pain or burning while urinating, trouble starting the flow of urine, and trouble emptying the bladder completely. Pain in the back, hips, or pelvis, as well as blood in the urine or semen, can also be indicators.

Rosner said prostate cancer is common in older men but can still affect younger men, particularly if they have a male relative with a history of the disease. Age is the most common risk factor, but other important risk factors include race, genetic factors, and family history. Men who have a relative with prostate cancer are twice as likely to develop the disease as those with no family history, Rosner noted.

“If you have a positive family history, that puts you at a potentially higher risk for having prostate cancer, and you should bring that potential risk up with your primary care doctor,” she said, adding that patients can then decide with their providers whether or not to be screened for prostate cancer.

Patients can be screened with a prostate-specific antigen blood test, also known as a PSA test. The test measures the level of PSA in the blood; an increased amount may indicate prostate cancer. But increased PSA levels alone do not diagnose the disease, which is confirmed through a biopsy.

The American Urology Association encourages men age 55 to 69 to undergo a PSA test every year. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force considers the decision to undergo periodic PSA screening to be an individual choice for men of that age group, stating that they should have the opportunity to discuss its potential benefits and drawbacks with a clinician. The task force said PSA screening offers a potential benefit of reducing the chance of death from the disease in some men, but also carries potential risks, such as false-positive results, over-diagnosis, and overtreatment.

“The important thing with prostate cancer is educating patients about their disease and their options, and tailoring treatment very specifically to that individual,” said Rosner. “We want to educate and empower people about their disease and help them make the best choices for themselves in terms of treatment or active surveillance.”

A majority of prostate cancer is treatable, explained Rosner. Since the disease advances slowly, not all cases require treatment, which can alter quality of life, she said. Men undergoing treatment can experience side effects, such as fatigue, pain, vomiting, or nausea as well as urinary, bowel, or erectile dysfunction.

Patients with low-risk prostate cancer can discuss alternative options with their physician, such as monitoring the cancer – known as active surveillance. Treatment options can include radiation therapy, surgery, chemotherapy, and hormone therapy, among others. All treatment regimens must be balanced against quality-of-life concerns, considering the potential side effects of each treatment, the aggressiveness of the cancer, and the overall life expectancy of the patient, said Rosner.

“It’s a very treatable disease, but the treatments can have a significant impact on quality of life,” she said. “For some low-risk or low-grade tumors, we tend to favor active surveillance, which is monitoring the disease but not necessarily treating it, because you can live with prostate cancer and not die from your prostate cancer.”

“While there’s no definitive way to prevent prostate cancer, men can help decrease their risk by being physically active, maintaining a healthy weight, and eating a nutritious diet,” said Rosner.

In addition to conducting research and clinical trials, the Uniformed Services University’s Center for Prostate Disease Research sees men for all prostate-related issues, including detection and treatment of prostate cancer. Open to active-duty servicemen and retirees, CPDR offers a weekly multidisciplinary clinic for newly diagnosed prostate cancer patients. For coverage details on prostate cancer screening, visit the TRICARE website.

“Men’s health really comes down to having an open and honest conversation with your physicians or providers,” said Rosner. “The more that we educate and empower our patients, the better off their decision-making will be.”

You also may be interested in...

The Defense Health Agency participates in AUSA 2019 annual meeting

Article
10/18/2019
U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Ronald Place, DHA Director, discusses upcoming Military Health System changes designed to improve the readiness of combat forces during a seminar held at the Association of the United States Army 2019 Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington, D.C.  Lt. Gen. Place explained how DHA is standardizing systems to improve healthcare across the enterprise.  (DHA Photo by Hannah Wagner)

Focus on quality care, innovation at home and on the battlefield

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Preventive Health

The Head, Hand, and Heart of Women’s Health

Article
10/4/2019
Maintaining peak health is critical for all military personnel. This month, we focus on women whose health concerns and symptoms may be different from those in men. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Roger Jackson)

Health is universal for military personnel and civilians, but some health concerns affect women differently. Here are a few examples.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Preventive Health | Women's Health

Women's Health Month: Take ownership of health, wellness issues

Article
10/1/2019
Navy Cmdr. Francesca Cimino, M.D. (standing) confers with a colleague in the Family Medicine department at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland. (Courtesy photo)

Regular cancer screenings are vital, but there's much more to longevity

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Women's Health

Water and sports drinks, what to drink, how much and when

Article
8/21/2019
Staff Sgt. Shaun Martin, a combat medic assigned to Blanchfield Army Community Hospital's LaPointe Army Medical Home on Fort Campbell, drinks from a 16-ounce bottle of water to maintain his hydration for optimal performance. On average, the Army recommends men should consume about 100 ounces of fluid (3 liters) each day, and women should aim for about 70 ounces (2 liters) for baseline hydration. In hot and humid environments and during physical activity, more is needed to maintain hydration — about one ounce per pound of body weight. To reach your goal, drink regularly and frequently, even if you are not thirsty to avoid dehydration. Water is usually the best choice over coffee, soda, energy drinks and alcohol because those beverages can pull water from the body and promote dehydration. (U.S. Army photo by Maria Yager)

Performance suffers from even small amounts of dehydration

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health

Five tips for back-to-school vaccinations

Article
8/19/2019
U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Ayla Soltren, a 5th Battalion Army Reserve Career Division counselor, collects school supplies with her daughter, Lana, at a Back to School Info Fair hosted by the 6th Force Support Squadron at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Aug. 3, 2019. Another tradition of the season is making sure vaccinations are up to date to keep students healthy and protected. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ryan C. Grossklag)

Keeping children up-to-date on vaccinations protects them from vaccine-preventable infections that can be spread throughout schools and day care centers.

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Children's Health

For healthy older adults, new shingles vaccine is worth the wait

Article
8/16/2019
A pharmacist prepares a dose of the shingles vaccine to be administered at Blanchfield Army Community Hospital's Town Center Pharmacy, Fort Campbell, Kentucky. (U.S. Army photo by Maria Yager)

Availability has improved across the MHS, experts say

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health

Three steps for a successful end-of-summer blow out

Article
8/14/2019
Marine Gunnery Sgt. Mario Cardenas, with Provost Marshal's Office, Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, prepares lunch for the H&HS Barbecue Cook-off at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Andrew Hiatt)

In just three stages, any military family can have a fun-filled welcome party for fall

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Summer Safety

Get kids ready for back to school with preventive health care

Article
8/8/2019
Don’t wait to take command of your children’s health. Prioritize preventive exams and vaccinations before the school year begins. Preventive services, routine immunizations, and health screenings are the best ways to make sure your kids are healthy and ready to hit the books. (U.S. Air Force photo by L.A. Shively)

Preventive services, routine immunizations, and health screenings are the best ways to make sure your kids are healthy and ready to hit the books

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Children's Health

Vaccines: A public health success story

Article
8/7/2019
Tech Sgt. Joseph Anthony, medical technician with the 911th Aeromedical Staging Squadron, administers a vaccination to a member of the U.S. Army Reserve’s 336 Engineering Company Command and Control, Chemical Radiological and Nuclear Response Enterprise Team at the Pittsburgh International Airport Air Reserve Station, Pennsylvania, April 11, 2019. Department of Defense-issued vaccinations are used to prevent a variety of diseases that military members may encounter in the course of their duties. (U.S. Air Force photo by Joshua J. Seybert)

Maintaining a medically ready force is just one of many reasons to vaccinate

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Immunizations | Immunization Healthcare | Vaccine-Preventable Diseases

The kissing bug and Chagas disease

Article
8/1/2019
Adult kissing bugs are mostly active in the warmer months, from May to October. Kissing bugs develop into adults after a series of five life stages as nymphs, and both nymphs and adults feed on blood. Kissing bugs feed on humans as well as wild and domestic animals and pets. They can live between one to two years. (Photo by Texas.gov)

Chagas disease comes from a single-celled parasite that lives in the digestive tract of many species of kissing bugs

Recommended Content:

Bug Week: July 27 - August 2 | Preventive Health

Tick Facts: Dangers at the height of tick season

Article
7/31/2019
A tick like this one, seen at 10x magnification, can spread a number of dangerous pathogens during the warm-weather months. (Photo by Cornel Constantin)

Many diseases are transferred to humans by ticks — Lyme is the most common, but several others, described here, are worth knowing about

Recommended Content:

Bug-Borne Illnesses | Bug Week: July 27 - August 2 | Tick-Borne Illnesses | Health Readiness | Preventive Health | Public Health

Zapping mosquitoes from the inside out

Article
7/29/2019
While chemical mosquito population control measures have been used with some degree of success, they are toxic to other insect populations and to the health of humans. A different angle of defense has emerged, which is genetic modification of the mosquito itself, making it transgenic. Transgenic mosquitoes are unable to transmit a pathogen, such as malaria, due to their altered genetic makeup. (DoD photo)

Mosquitoes aren’t just annoying at summer barbecues. In many parts of the world, they carry pathogens for Zika, dengue, yellow fever and malaria, the most devastating of mosquito-borne diseases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 440,000 people died in sub-Saharan Africa in 2016 from malaria, contracted from the bite of an infected female Anopheles mosquito. Protecting U.S. military personnel who continue to serve in this part of world is critical.

Recommended Content:

Bug Week: July 27 - August 2 | Mosquito-Borne Illnesses | Zika Virus | Preventing Mosquito-Borne Illnesses | Preventive Health | Innovation | Medical Research and Development | Deployment Health

Men’s preventive health screenings essential for readiness and a lifetime of good health

Article
6/27/2019
Hospitalman Payton Dupuis, a native of Mill City, Oregon, checks veteran Joseph Levette’s blood pressure at Naval Hospital Jacksonville’s internal medicine clinic. “Men’s health is a vital part of the mission,” stated Dupuis. “We need a healthy workforce to succeed.” (U.S. Navy photo by Jacob Sippel)

An apple a day helps, too

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Men's Health

Sexually transmitted infections on the rise in military

Article
6/26/2019
Some sexually transmitted infections are on the rise in the military. To increase awareness, members of Team McConnell attend a briefing on STIs at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexi Myrick)

What you need to know to stay safe

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Men's Health | Women's Health

Mail-in colon cancer screening may end colonoscopy for most

Article
6/19/2019
Army Medicine logo

The best test is the one the patient will do

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Men's Health | Women's Health
<< < 1 2 3 4 > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 4

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing: Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.