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September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, a time to highlight the importance of early detection and learn whether screening is right for you — especially since about 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime. Catching prostate cancer early, before symptoms arise, may allow for more treatment options and better outcomes.
Screening Guidelines for Prostate Cancer
The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends that men talk to their doctor about whether they should be screened for prostate cancer. The decision should be based on their desire for treatment if diagnosed, personal prostate cancer risk and overall health.
The ACS recommends talking to your doctor at:
- Age 50 if you’re at average risk for prostate cancer
- Age 45 if you’re at high risk for prostate cancer, which includes African American men and those with a first-degree relative (father or brother) diagnosed with the disease at an early age (younger than 65)
- Age 40 if you’re at especially high risk for prostate cancer, which includes men with more than one first-degree relative diagnosed with the disease at an early age
When you’ve decided to get screened, it typically involves the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test, which checks the levels of a protein made by cells in the prostate gland. High PSA levels may indicate prostate cancer, but they can also be high for other reasons.
Your doctor might also recommend a digital rectal exam (DRE) as part of your screening. DREs are used to feel for any bumps or hard areas on the prostate that may be cancer.
Advances in Prostate Cancer Treatment
In general, prostate cancer that hasn’t spread in the body is treated with surgery and radiation therapy, with or without hormone therapy.
Active surveillance, often called “watchful waiting,” is also an option for men who have a low risk of cancer spread. From 2014 to 2021, rates of active surveillance more than doubled, to almost 60% of American men diagnosed with low-risk prostate cancer.
Over the past 10 years, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved several new therapies to treat advanced and metastatic prostate cancer, including four new hormone therapy medications.
The FDA also approved two PARP inhibitors, substances that block an enzyme in cells that helps repair damaged DNA, to treat certain prostate cancers.
Additionally, the FDA approved two checkpoint inhibitor drugs. They work by blocking proteins on immune cells and making the immune system more effective at killing cancer cells, to treat prostate tumors with certain genetic features.
Finally, researchers have developed a targeted radiation therapy that can potentially find, bind to and kill prostate cancer cells in the body.
If you need treatment for prostate cancer, talk to your doctor about which therapy is right for you based on your specific type of cancer, overall health and treatment goals.
Resources for Prostate Cancer Patients
If you or a loved one is diagnosed with prostate cancer, we’re here to support you with leading-edge treatment, compassionate care and the resources you need to help you manage your journey.
You can also learn more about recommended health screenings for men and get help navigating a prostate cancer diagnosis through men’s health care at AdventHealth.