Prostate Cancer Awareness: Let’s Talk Risk Factors, Testing & Support

September 28, 2023
A female doctor in a white coat shows a male patient information on a tablet screen

Stock photo posed by models.

Prostate cancer can strike fear in those who receive this diagnosis. Understanding the experiences of living with prostate cancer — ranging from 'scanxiety' to intimacy-related side effects — can enhance person-centered care and improve overall well-being.

Prostate cancer survivor, retired physician

Prostate cancer is the second most common type of cancer among men. Despite its prevalence, some men still find it a difficult topic to discuss with their healthcare providers and with family and friends. Nonetheless, it’s an important conversation to have.


For baseball legend Ken Griffey Sr., prostate cancer was something his mother frequently discussed with her children. She lost 4 brothers to prostate cancer. “That was the biggest start to me being more aware of it, and she made us aware of it because she would talk about it all the time,” Griffey said in a 2017 interview with CSC, for our Frankly Speaking About Cancer podcast.

So, when Griffey was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2006, he was already armed with some knowledge about the disease. After receiving his diagnosis, he considered the different treatment options available before choosing to have robotic surgery. “My prognosis was I didn’t have to have radiation or chemotherapy,” Griffey said. “They knew they had gotten all of it. The biggest thing was the fact that they had gotten it early.”

There’s no better time than now, during Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, to share facts about the disease and support resources that can help. Keep reading for key things to know.


About 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime.


Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer affects the prostate, which is a walnut-sized organ located below the bladder and in front of the rectum. Prostate cancer occurs when prostate cells begin to grow out of control and form a mass or tumor in the prostate gland.

Men are at higher risk for the disease if they are over 65 or have a family history of prostate cancer. That means if your father, brother, or son had prostate cancer, you are at a higher risk. Prostate cancer is more common among Black men than white or Hispanic/Latino men. It’s least common among Asian American/Pacific Islander and American Indian/Alaska Native men. Other risk factors may include prostate changes such as prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN), an abnormal cell condition.



What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Prostate Cancer?


Testing for Prostate Cancer

If you have health concerns that could be a sign of prostate cancer, your doctor will ask you to have some tests done. These may include one or more of the following:

  • Rectal exam to look for unusual lumps or growth
  • Blood test (prostate-specific antigen test) to check for normal levels of antigens produced by the prostate
  • Ultrasound to detect abnormal growth with sound wave technology
  • Biopsy to remove and examine a small piece of prostate tissue for cancer
  • Imaging test to determine if the cancer has spread

If the test results indicate that prostate cancer is present, there are many treatment options to discuss with your doctor. Your doctor will help you decide which treatment would be best for you based upon the cancer stage, the grade of the tumor, your age, and other personal factors.


For men aged 55 to 69 years, the decision to undergo periodic prostate-specific antigen-based screening for prostate cancer should be an individual one.

— U.S. Preventive Services Task Force


Prostate Cancer Resources & Support

Our recent research reveals the impact prostate cancer can have on men’s quality of life and distress. For example, 37% of prostate cancer participants who joined our Cancer Experience Registry were at risk for clinically significant levels of anxiety. Additionally, 73% of participants experienced erectile dysfunction since diagnosis or treatment, and 34% felt they were not given enough information about erectile dysfunction prior to treatment.

If you are living with prostate cancer or are a caregiver to someone with prostate cancer, these resources can help ease the burden of your journey:

In this 2-minute video, Debra and Earl discuss the importance of support groups after cancer treatment and during recovery.


Editor's Note: This blog was originally published in September 2021 and has been updated.