Prostate cancer, the second-leading cause of cancer death in males, is a serious concern. Starting at age 40 the rate of prostate cancer in men steadily increases. However, the dangers of prostate cancer frequently go unmentioned, and many men aged 40 or older do not receive proper encouragement to undergo prostate cancer screening. Here are five questions we suggest you ask your doctor regarding prostate cancer.
1. Am I at risk for prostate cancer?
An individual’s risk for prostate cancer can be influenced by a number of environment and lifestyle factors. Family history, race, age, nationality, physical activity, and diet can all play a role in risk for this disease. Therefore, the risk of prostate cancer can vary significantly between individuals. For instance, African-American men are almost twice as likely to develop prostate cancer as other American men. The American Cancer Society suggests that men discuss their risk factors with their physician to learn more.
2. Should I be screened for prostate cancer?
The American Cancer Society recommends that men speak to their doctor before receiving a prostate cancer screening so they may best make an informed decision. Your doctor may advise different pathways for screening based on his assessment of your risk factors. If you are at average risk it is typically recommended that you start screenings at age 50. Higher risk men are advised to start screening at age 45. If you have a close relative who has been diagnosed with prostate cancer you should likely start screening as early as age 40.
3. What tests are available?
Two tests are commonly performed to detect prostate cancer; the prostate-specific antigen test (PSA) and the digital rectal exam (DRE). The PSA is a blood test that measures the prostate specific antigen, a substance made by the prostate. A high PSA level can indicate that cancer is present. The DRE, on the other hand, consists of inserting a rubber-gloved lubricated finger into the rectum to determine if the prostate is enlarged or if any lumps are present.
4. What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?
It is possible for an individual to have prostate cancer without any symptoms presenting. However, some symptoms may indicate that prostate cancer is present such as:
- Difficulty with starting urination
- Interrupted or weak urination
- Frequent urination at night
- Trouble emptying the bladder completely
- Burning or pain during urination
- Blood in semen or urine
- Pain in the pelvis, back or hips that is constant
- Pain during ejaculation
Though it is also possible that these symptoms may be caused by other conditions, we urge you contact your doctor immediately if any of these symptoms are present.
5. How is prostate cancer treated?
Several different treatments are available for prostate cancer. A urologist will help you decide between these options to determine the best way to treat your prostate cancer. These options include:
- Surveillance of your prostate cancer’s development and growth
- Surgical removal (usually performed with robotic technique)
- Radiation therapy
- HIFU (High Intensity Focused Ultrasound)
- Hormone therapy
If you have questions about prostate cancer, contact Dr. Scott D. Miller, MD here or call (404) 705-5201.