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Many of us have put off routine health checks and regular doctor visits in recent months. But it’s still important to take charge of your health to stay ahead of potential issues. For men, detecting prostate cancer early is vital to successfully treating it and keeping you well.
Catching Prostate Cancer Early Can Save Your Life
Though it’s more common in older men, prostate cancer can develop at any age. In fact, it’s the second cause of cancer death among men. That may be a startling statistic, but the good news is that regular screenings can drastically impact treatment outcomes.
"Although guidelines can be confusing, prostate cancer is highly treatable if caught early enough. Most men diagnosed with prostate cancer, especially in its early stages, can survive it if detected in time. This is why I can't emphasize enough that you should start having the conversation regarding prostate cancer screening with your PCP early on,” says world-renowned prostate cancer expert Vipul Patel, MD.
That’s why catching this slow-growing cancer early, when it’s most treatable, is so important. We have some helpful tips that can help guide you.
When to Consider Prostate Cancer Screening
Although the medical community agrees it’s a good idea, there isn’t a universal rule on when prostate cancer screenings should start, or which screening methods should be used. It’s ultimately up to you and your primary care physician (PCP) 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 with your physician," says Dr. Patel.
Since prostate cancer usually doesn’t 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
When no symptoms are present, you should talk with your doctor about prostate cancer screening at:
- Age 40 for men at high risk (family history of prostate cancer, especially more than on close relative)
- Age 45 for other high-risk men (African Americans or those with one close relative with prostate cancer)
- Age 50 for men at average risk
Prostate Cancer Screening
There are several screening options available to help detect prostate cancer, including:
- Digital Rectal Exam (DRE): Allows your doctor to check your prostate for lumps (polyps) or anything unusual.
- Prostate-Specific Antigen Test: Checks for an increased PSA level, which could be a sign of infection, inflammation or an enlarged prostate.
- Prostate Cancer Gene 3 RNA Test: Measures the amount of PCA3 RNA in your urine.
“The PSA screening test and a prostate exam are the most common and reliable methods for prostate cancer screening. Discuss which option is right for you with your physician,” says Dr. Patel.
Pre- and Post-Prostatectomy Physical Therapy
Starting certain exercises before prostatectomy surgery can help you recover more quickly and with fewer challenges.
Our specially trained therapists provide pre-rehabilitation (or “prehab”) exercises to help train your pelvic floor muscles and enhance your motor skills so you can bounce back from surgery quicker. These exercises can also help you during your recovery.
Pelvic physical therapy includes:
- A thorough evaluation to establish your goals, pelvic floor requirements and treatment plan
- Instruction on how to correctly use your pelvic floor muscles
- A personalized pelvic floor muscle exercise program designed according to your needs and condition
- Instruction in good bladder habits, fluid intake and bladder retraining if needed
- Advice about lifestyle modifications after surgery and guidance on returning to normal activity
Loss of some bladder control is common following a prostatectomy. Urine leakage usually occurs with physical activity, changing positions and coughing. The most frequent cause of incontinence after surgery is intrinsic sphincter deficiency related to insufficient urethral closure pressure. An overactive bladder can also be a contributing factor.
While bladder control usually improves over time, you can help this process by learning how to use your pelvic floor muscles correctly with guidance from a pelvic physical therapist.
We’re Ready When You’re Ready
Rest assured we’re taking extraordinary measures to protect you during your in-person health care appointments, including:
- Isolating symptomatic COVID-19 patients
- Limiting visitors in many areas
- Performing temperature checks on all staff and visitors
- Practicing social distancing
- Wearing masks at all times
To learn more about pre- and post-prostatectomy physical therapy, visit AHPelvicHealthCentralFL.com.
To learn about the Prostate Cancer Program at AdventHealth Cancer Institute, visit here.