Focusing on men's health issues not just in November, but all year long

BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - We're coming off the heels of "Movember", a month-long effort in November dedicated to men's health.

But local health experts say men should actually pay attention to their health all year long.

The Prostate Cancer Foundation says prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer in America. In the United States, one out of every nine men will be diagnosed in his lifetime.

Unfortunately, there usually aren't any early warning signs for prostate cancer. The growing tumor does not push against anything to cause pain, so for many years the disease may be silent. That's why screening for prostate cancer is such an important topic for all men and their families.

Some of the symptoms can be significant problems with urination and blood or urine in the semen, but symptoms are not common.

A PSA screening can help detect the cancer. During a PSA test, a small amount of blood is drawn from the arm, and the level of PSA, a protein produced by the prostate, is measured. Normal PSA ranges can vary according to factors unique to each man, so the PSA test is just a part of the process of screening for prostate cancer.

Doctors look at the overall PSA numbers, as well as the rate at which it rises over time and repeated tests. As the PSA number goes up, the chance that cancer is present increases. Depending on their age, men whose levels go above 3 or 4 are often recommended to undergo a biopsy. However, this PSA level does not mean that prostate cancer is definitely there and some cancer may be present even when PSA levels are lower.

Each time you see your doctor for a checkup, have a conversation about prostate health and prostate cancer screening. PSA levels can be influenced by many different factors. It's just one piece of the puzzle.

When it comes to focusing on men and their health needs, Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center has a new fellowship in men's health.

Dr. Allison Keith is working Dr. William Sturrock at Northern Light Urology for the fellowship, which provides an opportunity for a physician to gain expertise in male reproductive medicine and recognize the unique health conditions that affect men.