Prostate cancer is a serious issue for men, with one in six diagnosed with the disease in their lifetime. However, it is especially important for African-American men, who have a one in five chance of being diagnosed, the highest incident rate for any group in the U.S.
A recent survey of 90 men showed that men with prostate cancer aren't thinking about a potentially serious health concern that nearly all patients with advanced disease will experience — bone problems.
“Prostate cancer is a health concern that all men should be aware of, including African-American men who are at higher risk for this disease,” said Dr. Kris Gaston, urologist and clinical assistant professor of surgery/urology at the University of North Carolina. “I treat many of these men who are unaware of their risk of prostate cancer and are often diagnosed at later stages of the disease.”
When an African-American man is diagnosed with prostate cancer, he often has a more advanced level of the disease. In fact, a study looking at how prostate cancer can spread to other parts of the body found that African-American men were more likely than Caucasian men to have widespread disease with pain in their bones and had lower physical activity status. These results may be because African-American men are less likely to get tested for prostate cancer.
However, there are ways for African-American men to protect themselves. It is important for men to look out for prostate cancer early by speaking with their physicians about the signs and symptoms of the disease.
Bone health is a critical, yet often underrecognized facet of prostate cancer.
In early stages of prostate cancer, a man may receive hormone therapy that can cause bone loss and weakening. When prostate cancer advances, the most common place for it to spread is to the bone.
This can cause severe pain and lead to bone complications, such as fractures and spinal cord injury, which may require surgery or radiation.
In fact, roughly 75 percent of patients with advanced prostate cancer and approximately 90 percent of patients with castrate-resistant prostate cancer will develop bone metastases. Yet, results from a recent survey showed that only seven percent of men with prostate cancer were familiar with the potential for bone complications from cancer spreading.
“Cancer can have a serious impact on a man's bones during his prostate cancer journey. The results can be debilitating and greatly impact a man's life,” said Fred Mills, former chairman of the board, Us TOO International Prostate Cancer Education and Support Network.
“It's important for all men to educate themselves and become aware of risk factors and ways to help protect their bones from the effects of cancer.”
Talk to your doctor for more information. There is also a resource, the “Bone Health in Focus” report, to help prostate cancer patients and their caregivers learn more about how cancer can affect a man's bones. The report features valuable information, such as personal stories, tips and survey results that can assist men in their cancer journey.