The month of September is designated as prostate cancer awareness month, a good time for men to talk to their doctors about checking for prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is not only the most common cancer in men but also the second leading cause of cancer deaths. Usually a slow growing cancer, early stage prostate cancers are confined within the prostate gland and have a high cure rate. Later stages of prostate cancer can be devastating, as the cancer can invade the bladder or rectum and spread to the bones, causing severe pain with a minimal chance of cure.
The American Society of Oncology recommends prostate cancer screening should start at age 50 with a PSA blood test and an exam by a physician. Men with a family history of prostate cancer should be screened beginning at age 40.
If diagnosed with prostate cancer, men can expect to see an urologist and a radiation oncologist to discuss treatment options. 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.
Doctors should review all the choices of treatments with their patients while explaining the risks, benefits, and side effects of each choice. The goal of treatments today is to minimize the side effects as much as possible. For example, over the last thirty years, the goal of radiation oncologists has been to decrease or eliminate the side effects of treatment while still delivering a curative dose to the cancer. Today, side effects of radiation therapy to the prostate are very minimal.
The earlier a prostate cancer is found, the more options a man has in regards to treatment. Please talk to your doctor about your screening options, or call 479-648-1800 to schedule an appointment with my Cancer Prevention Clinic.