Stay Prostate Health Aware
Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in men, but it can often be successfully treated. Approximately one in nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime. Early detection is the key. As we observe Prostate Cancer Awareness Month in September, we present these valuable resources from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Men who are 55 to 69 years old should make individual decisions about being screened for prostate cancer with a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test.
The main benefit of screening is finding prostate cancers that may be at high risk of spreading so they can be treated before they spread. This may lower the chance of death from prostate cancer in some men.
Before making a decision about screening, talk to your Kelsey-Seybold doctor about the benefits and harms of screening for prostate cancer, including the benefits and harms of other tests and treatment. Men 70 years old or older should not be screened for prostate cancer routinely.
If you are thinking about being screened, you and your doctor should consider whether you have a family history of prostate cancer, if you are African American, if you have other medical conditions that may make it difficult for you to be treated for prostate cancer if it is found, or that may make you less likely to benefit from screening. Also, how you value the potential benefits and harms of screening, diagnosis and treatment.
Among the possible harms from screening is a false positive test result. This occurs when a man has an abnormal PSA test but does not actually have prostate cancer. Older men are more likely to experience false positive test results. A false positive often leads to unnecessary tests, like a biopsy of the prostate. A biopsy is when a small piece of tissue is removed from the prostate and examined under a microscope for signs of cancer cells. Older men are more likely to have a complication after a prostate biopsy, which can cause pain, blood in the semen, and infection.
The most common treatments for prostate cancer are surgery to remove the prostate and radiation therapy. Among the possible harms of treatment are:
- Urinary incontinence (accidental leakage of urine). About 1 out of every 5 men who have surgery to remove the prostate loses bladder control.
- Erectile dysfunction (impotence). About 2 out of every 3 men who have surgery to remove the prostate become impotent, and about half of men who receive radiation therapy become impotent.
- Bowel problems, including fecal incontinence (accidental leakage of bowel movements) and urgency (sudden and uncontrollable urge to have a bowel movement). About 1 out of every 6 men who has radiation therapy has bowel problems.
Again, consult your Kelsey-Seybold physician to determine what course of action is best suited to your unique health needs.