Ask Your Doctor: Is Prostate Cancer Screening Right for You?
By Nico Di Santo, AstraZeneca Medical Director, Oncology
Each September is nationally recognized as Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, serving as an important reminder for men across the U.S. about a potentially deadly disease and how to take proactive steps towards early detection.
Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in American men after skin cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, about 1 out of every 7 men will be diagnosed with the disease in his lifetime, and 1 in 38 men will die from it. Fortunately, more than 2 million men in the U.S. count themselves as prostate cancer survivors.
Starting at age 50, I encourage men to speak with their doctor about getting screened for prostate cancer. If you are African American or have a father or brother who had prostate cancer before age 65, this conversation with your doctor should begin at age 45, as African American men and men who have a family history of prostate cancer historically have a higher likelihood of developing prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer can be detected through screening with a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test or a digital rectal exam (DRE). While these detection tests may result in locating prostate cancer when it is still in an early stage, it is important to be aware that these tests are not 100% accurate indicators of a man’s cancer status and more tests may be required to confirm the presence or absence of cancer.
Early detection of this disease can be difficult because the early stages of prostate cancer typically do not show any warning signs. More advanced prostate cancer can cause symptoms, including:
• Problems passing urine, including a slow or interrupted flow
• The need to urinate more frequently, especially at night
• Pain during urination or ejaculation
• Blood in the urine
• Pain in the back, hips or pelvis
If you experience any of these symptoms, I urge you to start a dialogue with your doctor today. For additional information about prostate cancer, screening and support resources, visit the American Cancer Society.