Men, have you ever wondered about your risk of getting prostate cancer? If you live long enough, it’s 100 percent.
Compared to other cancers, prostate cancer is a slow-moving problem that can typically be dealt with in its earliest stages. In fact, it moves so slow that many people – health experts included – choose to ignore the condition altogether, opting for ignorance rather than treatment. Is this the stance you should take? Read on to find out.
Through the Ages
Like most conditions, prostate cancer is more likely to occur as you age. Some experts state that if men could live longer, each and every one of them would end up with a diagnosis of prostate cancer. However, it appears that every man would not benefit from prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests. During this test, a blood sample is taken from the prostate. If a high level of PSA exists, prostate cancer is likely and more tests are performed to determine whether cancer is indeed present.
While it has become a standard test for men, recent research has shown PSA testing may not be as useful as once thought. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force states that men over 75 years old suffer greater potential harm than protection through PSA testing. For men under 75, the research panel was doubtful that “treatment for prostate cancer detected by screening improves health outcomes compared with treatment after clinical detection.”
In other words, getting screened for prostate cancer via PSA or other method doesn’t seem to reduce a person’s likelihood of dying from prostate cancer. However, these findings should not prevent a physician from making screening decisions until further research is performed.
Consider the Options
No matter what brings a diagnosis of prostate cancer your way, it is important to know what treatment options are available, so you can make the best choice for your life and lifestyle. Here are the most likely ways your prostate cancer may be treated.
Watchful Waiting – Because prostate cancer grows at a very slow rate, it is common to watch the cancer and act only when it begins to increase in size. This option is often deployed in older men –especially those with other health conditions – whose prostate cancer is in the earliest stages.
External Radiation – Also known as traditional radiation, this entails aiming a beam of radiation at the cancerous prostate, killing the cancerous cells over a series of treatments. It requires the patient to visit the hospital or other cancer facility regularly, typically for a number of weeks.
Internal Radiation – In an effort to make prostate cancer treatment more manageable, internal radiation therapy was developed. With this treatment, small pellets of radiation are implanted into the prostate. These pellets slowly release radiation, killing cancerous cells as the patient goes about his daily life.
Surgical Intervention – For many cases of prostate cancer, surgery is a viable option. Options include complete removal of the prostate, partial removal of the prostate, and removal of the prostate and surrounding lymph nodes. Surgery is sometimes performed in conjunction with radiation therapy.
The Second Test
In addition to prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing, it is commonly recommended that men over the age of 50 undergo a digital rectal examination (DRE) every year. During a DRE, the physician manually feels the male’s prostate gland by reaching a finger (digit) through the anus. Any abnormal lump is noted and if necessary or desired, additional tests performed for a more conclusive diagnosis.