The month of September is designated as prostate cancer awareness month. Following skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men. Each year nearly 250,000 cases will be diagnosed, while 30,000 men will die of prostate cancer. Over a man’s lifetime, 1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at an average age of 65. Diagnosis before the age of 40 is very rare.
What are the guidelines for prostate cancer screening? Screening for prostate cancer should start at the age of 50 for most men; however, for men with a family history, screening should start at age 40. The screening includes a PSA blood test and a rectal exam. PSA, or Prostate-specific antigen, is a protein produced by cells of the prostate gland. The PSA test measures the level of PSA in a man’s blood. The rectal exam allows the doctor actually to feel the patient’s prostate gland and check for bumps or knots within the prostate.
What are treatment options for prostate cancer? Prostate cancer is a very treatable and curable disease. The options for treatment range from surgery, radioactive seed implantation, intensity modulated radiotherapy, androgen deprivation, and observation. Some patients require a combination of treatment options, as well.
Surgery entails a total removal of the prostate gland. Radioactive seed implantation is the insertion of radioactive seeds into the prostate gland. Intensity modulated radiotherapy is radiation therapy delivered to the prostate gland over a period of several weeks. Androgen deprivation is hormone therapy which can “shut off” the prostate cancer for a time before it becomes active again. With this type of treatment, the length of time before the prostate cancer becomes active again can be considerable. Hormone therapy is typically used in older more frail men. Observation is a plan to monitor a patient and watch his PSA levels over time.
The earlier a prostate cancer is found, the more options a man has in regards to treatment. In honor of prostate cancer awareness month, my office, Fort Smith Radiation Oncology, is hosting a free prostate screening event. Please call 479-648-1800 today to schedule your free screening to be held on Thursday, September 25, 2014.