September 15th, 2014
As September marks National Prostate Health awareness month, this week Dr. Elist reviews Prostate Cancer and the importance of its awareness. In 2014, there were just under 20,000 reported cases of prostate cancer every month in the United States. As alarming as that number may be, about 2500 prostate cancer related deaths were reported monthly. That means that of all the reported new cases of prostate cancer, about 12.5% proved fatal. With better awareness of screening tests and improved treatments, prostate cancer has in recent years proved to be amongst the more curable of cancers.
Unfortunately, more often than not, there are little to no early symptoms for prostate cancer. This makes routine screenings ever more important. Prostate cancer survival is contingent on a number of things, including spread from the prostate to the other parts of the body. The earlier prostate cancer is detected, the better the prognosis. Currently, options for prostate cancer screening includes the digital rectal exam as well as the prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test. The diagnosis of prostate cancer is dependent on a biopsy taken of the prostate. Both can be performed by any qualified primary care physician or urologist, and can be carried out in their office.
Risk factors for prostate cancer vary. However, genetics is one of the most important indicators for risk of prostate cancer. People with a first-degree relative with prostate cancer have twice the risk of developing prostate cancer. Certain medications and medical conditions have also been linked to prostate cancer development including the use of testosterone, prior prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate) and certain sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhea, and syphilis.
The treatment options for prostate cancer vary, depending on the grading and staging of the disease. Deciding factors include the Gleason score, if spread of the disease is detected, the age of the patient, etc. From medications to surgery, speak with your doctor about treatment options if you are diagnosed with prostate cancer. It should be noted that not all cases of diagnosed prostate cancer require immediate action. Certain lower-risk prostate cancers may be observed and monitored, as they may pose no immediate risk or sequela.
If you or someone you know has a family member that has, has had, or are concerned about prostate cancer, speak with your doctor today. With early awareness, early screenings and close monitoring, prostate cancer is no longer a death sentence and most can live long, happy and healthy lives.