By Annette Pinder

Prostate cancer is the leading cause of cancer among men in the United States, and this September, during Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, Christopher J. Skomra, M.D., of Great Lakes Cancer Care Collaborative and Western New York Urology Associates, urges men to know the facts and increased risks for prostate cancer.

  • One in eight men in the United States will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime.
  • Men are more likely to develop prostate cancer than melanoma and cancers of the colon, kidney, and stomach combined.
  • More than three million men in the U.S. are currently living with prostate cancer.
  • Prostate cancer risk increases as men age, and roughly 60% of prostate cancer cases are found in men over age 65.
  • Men with a father, brother, or son diagnosed with prostate cancer can be twice as likely to develop the disease.
  • When detected early, the five-year survival rate for prostate cancer in the U.S. was 97% between 2012 and 2018.

According to Dr. Skomra, there are usually no symptoms in the early stages of prostate cancer. However, depending on the location of the tumor, symptoms can include weak or interrupted urine flow; inability to urinate; difficulty starting or stopping urination; frequent urination, especially at night; blood in the urine; painful or burning urination; and pain in the lower back, pelvis, or upper thighs. Such symptoms should prompt a call to your physician.

Prostate cancer risk factors include being age 50 or older; African American; consuming a diet high in fat; a sedentary lifestyle; and having a father or brother with prostate cancer. “While most prostate cancers are found in men over age 65, annual PSA tests to screen for prostate cancer should begin at age 50. However, men with increased risk factors should begin screening at age 40,” says Dr. Skomra.

Dr. Skomra explains, “Prostate screening requires a Digital Rectal Exam (DRE) and Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test to measure the number of prostate-specific antigens in your blood. If your PSA level is elevated for your age, it may need to be repeated, or your doctor may order an MRI (a painless imaging test). If the MRI or PSA is suspicious, a prostate biopsy is required to diagnose prostate cancer, so that a pathologist can examine a tissue sample taken from your prostate gland. Thanks to advanced treatment options, prostate cancer can often be eliminated or managed with common treatment options, such as external beam radiation therapy (sometimes known as intensity modulated radiation therapy) or prostatectomy (removal of the prostate gland), using conventional or minimally invasive techniques. Your doctor may also suggest hormone therapy or active surveillance.”

Routine prostate screening should begin at age 50, and at age 40 for men with increased risk factors. So, make an appointment today. It could save your life. Prostate cancer is a common yet treatable disease. Men are urged to educate themselves about prostate cancer and discuss prevention with their physician.

Learn more at, and watch a video of Dr. Skomra at To make an appointment with Dr. Skomra, call 716-844-5000.