More than 190,000 American men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year, yet prostate health remains a difficult topic to broach for many. Kellie Paich, the global director of clinical quality and survivorship (prostate cancer) for the Movember Foundation, explains how we can more easily shine a light on men’s health issues.
Global Director of Clinical Quality and Survivorship (Prostate Cancer), Movember Foundation
What are the key symptoms men should look out for when it comes to prostate cancer?
For most men, unfortunately there are not any early warning signs for prostate cancer. This is why screening for prostate cancer and understanding family history is vitally important. It is also important to know that men of African descent are at higher risk. In rare cases, some men may experience changes in urinary or sexual function, or frequent pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, or upper thighs.
What are the differences in treatment for prostate cancer, and how should men decide which route to take in treatment?
There are many treatments for prostate cancer and choosing the right plan should take many factors into consideration, including the type and severity of prostate cancer at diagnosis. It is important that men work with their doctors to understand what options are available to them and to choose a treatment that leads to longer life, as well as the best outcomes for managing side effects. Treatments include: active surveillance, surgery, radiotherapy, hormone therapy, immunotherapy, and chemotherapy, among others.
Are there any side effects that can come after treating prostate cancer?
Side effects from prostate cancer treatment vary based on the treatment type and have different impacts for different people. These may include urinary, sex and intimacy, and bowel issues, as well as fatigue, depression, hot flushes, stress, and anxiety. Prostate cancer can affect relationships with loved ones, making it important to include and involve partners and other family members throughout prostate cancer diagnosis, treatment, and beyond.
What is the best way to talk to the men in your life about prostate cancer awareness?
The men in our lives are facing a health crisis, yet it’s rarely talked about. It’s important that we start those conversations. Understanding and asking about family history of prostate cancer is a great place to start. Encouraging men to speak to their doctors about their prostate health and risk is also important. For men with prostate cancer and those who support them, resources are available, such as Movember True North, an innovative, information-rich website that provides knowledge and solutions.
What are new innovations that might be coming out for prostate cancer treatment in the next few years?
The past year has seen huge progress in the search for new treatments for advanced prostate cancer. A decade of Movember-funded research has led to Olaparib, which received FDA approval earlier this year, and is being hailed as the world’s first precision medicine for the disease. We hope it will be used to extend and improve the lives of thousands of men in the near future.