Hall of Fame baseball player Ryne Sandberg shared that he was diagnosed this month with metastatic prostate cancer.
Sandberg, 64, announced the news in a joint Instagram statement with the Chicago Cubs, for which he played second baseman during most of his career. Sandberg retired in 1997; his jersey number, 23, was retired last year.
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“I have begun treatment, and I am surrounded by my loving wife Margaret, our incredibly supportive family, the best medical care team, and our dear friends,” Sandberg wrote. “We will continue to be positive, strong, and fight to beat this.”
The 10-time All-Star included photographs of his wife, extended family and himself smiling and giving a thumbs-up during treatment. The post garnered over 114,000 likes and hundreds of comments from fans, former teammates, Major League Baseball teams and more.
Prostate cancer is a typically slow-growing cancer of the prostate gland, a walnut-sized organ located under the bladder and in front of the rectum in people born male. But in some cases, the cancer can grow rapidly and spread beyond the prostate, a process known as metastasis.
About 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. This type of cancer is more likely to develop in older men. In fact, about 6 in 10 men diagnosed with prostate cancer are 65 and older. The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimate that there will be about 299,000 new cases of prostate cancer and 35,250 deaths in 2024.
The five-year survival rate for people living with prostate cancer is greater than 99%. For metastatic prostate cancer, however, the five-year survival rate is about 38%, according to ACS.
What are the risk factors for prostate cancer?
The major risk factors for prostate cancer are genetics and family history. Studies looking at the link between prostate cancer and a diet high in red meat, chemical exposures, including smoking, sexually transmitted infections and having had a vasectomy have produced conflicting results.
What is prostate cancer screening?
Doctors primarily use two tests to screen for prostate cancer: the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test and the digital rectal exam (DRE), in which a finger is inserted into the rectum to feel for lumps or swelling of the prostate.
Experts disagree about when prostate cancer screening should be done. Because it usually grows slowly, most men with prostate cancer will die of other causes and early treatment carries some risks. The American Cancer Society recommends that at age 50, men should discuss the risks and benefits of screening with their doctor and make an individual decision. African-American men and those with a family history of prostate cancer should start this discussion sooner, at 45 or even 40.
What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?
Usually, early-stage prostate cancer, when tumors are small, causes few or no symptoms. As cancer progresses, some men may experience symptoms including:
- A frequent urge to urinate
- Difficulty urinating
- Blood in the urine or semen
- Difficulty getting an erection
- Pain in the lower back and hips.
Some of these symptoms may also be caused by noncancerous enlargement of the prostate, known as benign prostatic hyperplasia. Men with metastatic prostate cancer may experience other symptoms, such as bone pain, as the cancer spreads.