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While prostate cancer largely affects older men, it can develop at any age. It’s the second cause of cancer death among men, but the good news is that regular screenings can drastically impact treatment outcomes.
Prostate cancer is highly treatable if caught early enough. Most men diagnosed with prostate cancer survive, especially if it’s treated in the early stages. Start having the conversation regarding prostate cancer screening with your primary care physician now, if you haven’t already.
Because catching this slow-growing cancer when it’s most treatable is so important, we have some helpful tips to guide you.
When to Consider Prostate Cancer Screening
The medical community agrees that screenings are always good idea, but there isn’t a hard and fast rule on when they should start, or which screening methods should be used.
It’s ultimately up to you and your primary care physician to talk about your prostate cancer risk and to create a screening plan that’s right for you. If family history or other risk factors apply in your situation, it's even more important to address it with your physician early.
Since prostate cancer doesn’t typically cause noticeable symptoms, especially in early stages, the American Cancer Society offers suggestions on when conversations about prostate cancer screening should begin as a general rule. But if you do experience any of these symptoms, you should talk with your doctor right away:
- Back pain
- Blood in your urine
- Changes in your urine flow or frequency
- Pain while urinating
- Pelvic pain
Depending on your risk group, talk with your doctor about prostate cancer screening at:
- Age 40 for men at high risk (family history of prostate cancer, especially more than one close relative)
- Age 45 for other high-risk men (African Americans or those with one close relative with prostate cancer)
- Age 50-55 for men at average risk
For men who aren’t in a high risk group, most insurance companies start covering screenings between ages 50 and 55.
Prostate Cancer Screening Tests
There are several screening options available to help detect prostate cancer, including:
Digital Rectal Exam (DRE)
This test allows your doctor to check your prostate for lumps (polyps) or anything unusual.
Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Test
This test measures the level of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in your blood. While a high PSA level can indicate prostate cancer, it doesn’t always mean you have it. An increased PSA level can also be a sign of infection, inflammation or an enlarged prostate. Since the PSA test is non-invasive, it’s a great place to start. If your PSA level is high, you and your doctor can decide which further tests are needed.
Prostate Cancer Gene 3 RNA Test
If you have a high PSA level and your prostate biopsy doesn’t show cancer, your doctor may recommend for you to test for the prostate cancer gene 3 (PCA3). The test measures the amount of PCA3 RNA in your urine after a physical exam of your rectum. If the PCA3 RNA level is higher than normal, another biopsy may help diagnose prostate cancer.
Prostate Cancer Treatment Options
If you find you need treatment for prostate cancer, rest assured that we have world-class treatment options personalized to meet your needs. Our experienced team offers minimally invasive solutions to help you heal, including:
This is a surgery to remove part or all of the prostate gland. This treatment is most often used to treat localized prostate cancer. It can be used alone, or with radiation, chemotherapy and hormone therapy. Prostatectomy can be a minimally invasive surgery used with robotic assistance, or a traditional open surgery depending on the situation.
Radiation therapy is the process of using high-energy radiation to target and eliminate cancer cells. Our team of experienced, board-certified radiation oncologists treat prostate cancer through a comprehensive array of technologically advanced radiation therapies.
As part of radiation therapy, AdventHealth offers SpaceOAR, a unique offering that can be used to protect the adjacent, healthy rectal tissue. This soft, gel-like material is placed between the prostate and the rectum and acts as a safe, painless barrier that is naturally absorbed and fully passed out of the body through the patient’s urine in about six months.
Feel Whole for Life
Learning more and talking to your doctor about prostate cancer will help you take charge of your health — and strengthen your body, mind and spirit. To learn more about prostate cancer and screenings, visit WholeUrologyCare.com