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Carrington College Blog

Prostate cancer just as common as breast cancer

May 13, 2015

Certified medical assistants will come into contact with a number of diseases, especially the common types of cancer. Prostate cancer receives far less attention and publicity than breast cancer, even though the two diseases are parallel in the number of cases diagnosed each year.

Knowledge about the disease is necessary
Today, 1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer1, in comparison with 1 in 8 women with breast cancer.2 While the rate of disease incidence is very similar, the measures taken to reduce these numbers vary by gender.

What makes breast cancer such a public disease is the vigilant advocacy and dialogue committed toward increasing knowledge of preventative measures, like breast exams. High-profile cases involving celebrities dealing with the disease, like the double mastectomy of Angelina Jolie, have brought breast cancer and its various forms of prevention into the spotlight. That’s the same attitude and public example men need to have, according to Dr. David Samadi, chairman of urology and chief of robotic surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.3

Nonprofit organizations like the Susan G. Komen Foundation encourage women to learn about breast cancer and pay attention to the risk factors associated with the disease. The same mindset is necessary for men who are at risk for prostate cancer. Not only are men more likely to have chronic illnesses, but they are 1.3 times more likely to get cancer, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, reported by Dr. Samadi.3

Testing is simple
Knowing the right questions to ask is vital to early detection and prevention  Easy, effective screenings are available for both men and women. For females age 40 and older, mammograms are recommended every year, and self-exams are encouraged frequently.4 For males, a simple PSA (prostate-specific antigen) blood test will test for elevated levels of the protein produced by the prostate gland. If consistently high PSA levels are found, a prostate biopsy is recommended to test for the cancer.1 Both tests also require a physical exam.

Knowing the risk factors associated with each disease is also important to early detection. Things like old age, obesity and even a family history of breast cancer can increase the possibility of a prostate cancer diagnosis.5 Some forms of prostate and breast cancer share genetic mutations, like the BRCA gene, which can be tested for.5 Although prostate cancer is considered a silent killer because it can often appear without symptoms, with knowledge of this genetic predisposition, men can be regularly screened as a preventative measure.

Over 220,000 cases of each prostate and breast cancer are diagnosed every year according to the American Cancer Society1,2, but the attention surrounding the two differs greatly. For medical assistants and other certified medical professionals, it is vital to spread awareness of prostate cancer before it affects and kills an unsuspecting victim. With knowledge of the potential onset of the disease, patients can continue to focus on regular testing and early detection.

1“Prostate Cancer Key Statistics,” American Cancer Society, March 12, 2015.

2“Breast Cancer Key Statistics,” American Cancer Society, Feb. 26, 2015.

3“Men can learn from Rita Wilson’s vigilance: Prostate and breast cancer are more similar than you think,” Dr. David Samadi, NY Daily News, April 16, 2015.

4“Breast Cancer Prevention and Early Detection,” American Cancer Society, April 9, 2015.

5“Prostate cancer: risk factors,” Mayo Clinic, March 3, 2015.