Prostate Cancer: Common Questions, Answered
Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer diagnosed in American men, affecting 10 percent of all men during their lifetime. And yet, many screening and treatment questions don’t always have straightforward answers.
Recently, Fox Chase Cancer Center oncologists Andres Correa, MD; Eric Horwitz, MD, FABS, FASTRO; and Matthew Zibelman, MD sat down with 6abc Action News for a Facebook Live chat to answer questions about prostate cancer. Here’s a look at some of the topics they discussed:
Who is Most Likely to Get Prostate Cancer?
We know that prostate cancer risk generally increases after age 50. Race is a big factor, too — African American men are more likely to be diagnosed with and die from prostate cancer than Caucasian men. There’s also a hereditary component to prostate cancer, and while that’s important to consider, having a family history of the disease doesn’t mean that you will get it.
What Are the Symptoms of Prostate Cancer?
Some symptoms of prostate cancer include having to urinate more often (especially at night), weak urine flow or straining to urinate, and blood in the urine. However, many men don’t experience any symptoms at all. That’s because prostate cancer is often caught very early, either during routine prostate exams or through dedicated screening tests.
How is Prostate Cancer Detected?
Physicians mainly use PSA blood tests (which look at a type of protein released by the prostate into the bloodstream) to screen for prostate cancer. PSA levels are higher when something abnormal is happening in the prostate, but it’s important to know that having a high PSA level is not always linked to cancer. If your urologist is concerned about prostate cancer, they may order an MRI and/or a biopsy.
When Should Men Get Screened for Prostate Cancer?
In general, men should talk with their doctors about getting screened starting at age 50. That initial screening is particularly important because PSA levels from that test will determine how often an individual should be screened moving forward.
The recommendations are different for those deemed high risk for prostate cancer. In that case, men should talk with their doctors about starting regular screenings at age 45.
How is Prostate Cancer Treated?
Prostate cancer is often slow growing. In these cases, active surveillance can be a very good option that involves keeping a close eye on the situation. If the cancer starts to grow or change, an individual’s oncologist can reevaluate active treatment options with their patient.
Treatment options for prostate cancer include surgery, radiation therapy, and systemic therapy, and which specific treatment (or combination of treatments) is best for a specific patient will be determined by their oncologist. These treatments may be standard-of-care, or may be offered as part of a clinical trial, which allows patients access to new treatment options.
Regardless of the treatment option selected, it’s worth having a multidisciplinary team involved in your care. Having access to multiple experts who specialize in different areas of treatment can make a huge difference in outcomes, and this is something we offer at Fox Chase to our prostate cancer patients.