Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men and is the second most common cause of cancer death among men in the United States. Approximately 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime and it is the third leading cause of cancer death in American men, behind lung cancer and colorectal cancer. About 1 in 41 men will die of prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer begins in the prostate and remains there in the early stages. As the cancer advances, it can spread through three different routes: locally by breaching the capsule of the prostate, through the lymphatic channels to the lymph nodes in the pelvis or through blood vessels to the bones, especially the spine. Unfortunately, prostate cancer does not cause any symptoms until it is in advanced stages. Left untreated, prostate cancer can lead to symptoms such as erectile dysfunction, loss of bladder control and pain when urinating. It may also metastasize, spreading cancer cells to other parts of the body.Fortunately, the screening for prostate cancer is easy to implement, reliable, cheap and could lead to an early diagnosis when this cancer can be easily treated. Population-based screening studies have shown that screening can reduce mortality due to prostate cancer by 21%. Screening for prostate cancer is simple and quick, performed with a digital rectal exam (DRE) assessing prostate size and contour and a blood test for prostate-specific antigen (PSA). If a PSA score comes back high or a lump is found during the digital exam, the doctor will likely recommend lab tests and an ultrasound biopsy be taken of the prostate. The biopsy is performed via the rectum and is the only way to prove if there is cancer in the prostate. The risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer increases as the PSA blood level increases.The American urologic association (AUA) guidelines recommend that men over the age of 55 years should be screened for prostate cancer. For men at increased risk (known family history, known genetic risk factors, or African ancestry) discussion about screening should start even earlier at age 40. The good news is when prostate cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, it can be completely curable with minimal side effects from treatment.Recent advances in the field of prostate cancer make the process of screening, diagnosis and treatment simplistic with minimal indisposition and loss of work. In fact, the very early stages prostate cancer does not require treatment and can be monitored. Published data suggests that one of the most important factors in beating prostate cancer is early diagnosis and accurate treatment by experienced physicians and surgeons. The team at Upstate Urology at the Mohawk Valley Health System (MVHS) is highly experienced in caring for people ailing from urological cancer.
September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. During this time, Upstate Urology at MVHS, is hosting a free prostate screening event on Tuesdays and Fridays in September. It’s important for all men between the ages of 45-75 to use this opportunity to be screened for prostate cancer. Visit mvhealthsystem.org/prostate-screening-form to sign up today.
Please join our important quest of fighting prostate cancer by improving early detection rates. Sign up for your screening today!
Dr. Bhat is an assistant professor at SUNY Upstate Medical University and an Uro-Oncologist at the Mohawk Valley Health System (MVHS). Dr. Bhat received his medical degree from St. John’s National Academy of Health Sciences, completed his residency in Urology at Stanley Medical College, a fellowship in laparoscopy and robotics at AdventHealth Global Robotics Institute and a fellowship in Urology at Vattikutti Robotic Urology, Apollo Hospitals. He has more than 12 years of experience and specializes in prostate cancer, BPH and stone disease.
This article originally appeared on Observer-Dispatch: Get screened: September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month