WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - While all men are at risk of developing prostate cancer, age is the greatest risk factor.
More than 65 percent of all prostate cancers are diagnosed in men who are 65 or older, and the chances of a man developing the disease increases as he ages.
According to the American Cancer Society, about one in six men will be diagnosed with the disease during his lifetime, but only one in 39 will die from it.
About three million men in America have been diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point, but the good news is most of them are still alive.
While it is the third leading cause of death in men, prostate cancer is very treatable if caught early.
"About 160,000 are diagnosed in the U.S. every year and we certainly see our fair share of it in southeastern North Carolina," says Dr. Michael Papagikos, a radiation oncologist at New Hanover Regional Medical Center.
Prostate cancer is found from a simple blood test called a prostate specific antigen or PSA.
"If that's elevated, that suggests there could be a chance for prostate cancer and that usually leads to a biopsy that's done by a urologist," explains Dr. Papagikos.
Treatment varies depending on the stage.
"If it's still confined to the prostate and hasn't spread to other parts of the body, the most common treatments are radiation, which is what I do, and surgery which is radical prostatectomy which is removal of the prostate," adds Dr. Papagikos. "If the prostate cancer has spread to other parts of the body then the primary treatment is hormonal therapy and we give medicine that tricks the body into not making testosterone anymore and that treats the prostate cancer and lowers the PSA level."
Dr. Papagikos says there's also the option of doing nothing.
"One of the treatments out there is no treatment at all. A lot of prostate cancer is diagnosed and they've got prostate cancer but it's such a slow growing form it may never impact their natural lifespan," he said.
Watch for a report on WECT News at 6 p.m. on how prostate cancer affects a man's sex life.