There has been a lot of controversy regarding screening for prostate cancer but one point that cannot be argued is the decreased death rate from prostate cancer since the approval of the use of PSA (the blood test for prostate cancer) by the US Government. Screening for prostate cancer saves lives.
Screening consists of a DRE (digital rectal exam) and the PSA (prostate specific antigen) blood test.
When do we have to worry about prostate cancer? In this essay, I will touch on risk factors, prevention, and screening.
Age: We have all seen Prostate Cancer diagnosed in men under forty, but this fortunately is rare. The most common age range is 50-70. As we get older, the odds are greater.
Race: Black men get prostate cancer twice as often as any other racial group and are 2.5 times more likely to die from the disease.
Family History: Absolutely. Especially if your dad, uncle, grandfather, or brother was diagnosed younger than 55. Breast cancer is intimately related to prostate cancer and a family history of breast cancer worsens your odds (and vice versa).
Diet: Obesity is related to more aggressive cancer.
Chemical Exposure: Veterans exposed to Agent Orange are nearly 50% more likely to get prostate cancer. Firefighters are also at increased risk.
Can you prevent prostate cancer? There are certainly enough products claiming to improve prostate health (this is a multi-BILLLION dollar industry, by the way). What about the data?
There are plenty of studies supporting what we already know: eat better, exercise better, don’t smoke. There is an interesting nutraceutical product called Prostate 2.4 by a company called Theralogix. Prostate 2.4 now has the attention of a lot of government agencies interested in population health because there is real science behind it and good data is being collected.
What if you are diagnosed with prostate cancer? I tell my patients that there are two types of prostate cancer; a “good” kind and a “bad” kind. Treatment options depend on the kind you have. Active Surveillance is great for early diagnosed, non-aggressive prostate cancer, but would not work for a more aggressive case. In my practice, we have a team approach that includes a Urologic Oncologist, Medical Oncologist, and Radiation Oncologist, to insure you get the best treatment designed specifically for you. There is not a one-size-fits-all approach to this.
If you have any questions or would like a second opinion on an already diagnosed case of prostate cancer, feel free to contact me. I am a Urologist in Phoenix, AZ, specializing in Men’s Health.