THE BLOG
01/25/2016 04:36 pm ET Updated Jan 25, 2017

Prostate Cancer: Not Just an Older Man's Disease

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Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men in the United States. On average, men are diagnosed most often around the age of 66, and about six in ten cases are diagnosed in men age 65 or older. However, what many people do not realize is that prostate cancer is not just an older man's disease. Many men in their 50s and even men as young as 40 years old can get prostate cancer too.

Key statistics for prostate cancer

• It is estimated that in 2015 in the United States, there will be about 220,800 new cases of prostate cancer and about 27,540 deaths from prostate cancer.
• About 1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime, and about 1 in 38 men will die of prostate cancer.
• About 6 cases in 10 are diagnosed in men aged 65 or older. The average age at the time of diagnosis is about 66.

In the past 20 years, the number of younger men that have been diagnosed with prostate cancer has increased nearly six-fold. Today in the United States, over 10 percent of new prostate cancer diagnosed occur in men younger than 55 years old. The scary part in regards to younger men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer, the disease is usually more aggressive.

The good news -- while prostate cancer is a serious disease, most men will not die from it. However, early detection is key. Prostate cancer most often affect men in their 60s, 70s and older. And for these men, the disease is often progresses rather slowly. Men who are in their later stages of life are likely to die with prostate cancer, not of it. However, this does not these men shouldn't have treatment. Having treatment is necessary to avoiding the spread of the disease. When younger men are diagnosed with prostate cancer, they often have cancers that grow quickly and aggressively.

Screening for prostate cancer involves getting your prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tested. A PSA test is a simple blood test the measures the amount of PSA in your blood. Various governmental agencies recommend that men do not get their PSA tested until after the age of 50. And the USPSTF recommends that men completely avoid PSA screening. They believe there is not enough evidence to support the benefits of the test. However, because men that are younger than 50 can get prostate cancer too, men should at least have a baseline PSA test at the age of 40. This is especially true if you are at a higher risk for prostate cancer, which includes men of African-American descent, and those who have a family history of the disease.

What men should know about getting screened for prostate cancer:

1. Men should have a baseline PSA test starting at age 40. Your results should be discussed with a prostate cancer specialist who can help you assess your risk factors and guide you in the right direction as far as when and how often to be screened.
2. Know your family history. If you don't know if any of the men in your family have had prostate cancer, find out. Men who have a brother or father with a history of prostate cancer are twice as likely to be diagnosed with the disease. The risk is even higher for younger men if they have multiple relatives with a history of prostate cancer. Make sure to inform your doctor of this information.
3. African-American men have the highest risk for prostate cancer. African-American men are 60 percent more likely to develop prostate cancer and are 2.5 times more likely to die from it. African-American men are also more often diagnosed at a younger age and are more likely to have an aggressive form of cancer.