As men reach age 40, their metabolisms have slowed, hair is thinning, and we must subject ourselves to the annual prostate exam. Prostate cancer is one of the most treatable, yet most common cancers affecting men today. Reasons for having a prostate exam are mostly symptomatic, men experience a bacterial infection, an increased need to urinate and trouble going, dribbling following urination, blood in the urine, or a bladder obstruction with retention. All are indicative of trouble in the prostate and signs that men should get checked out. Before moving ahead with any prostate screening, doctors should open a dialogue with male patients regarding the screening method and its inherent risks.
Types of Prostate Exams
There are two traditionally universal methods for screening a prostate, the PSA and DRE. The PSA is Prostate-Specific-Antigen test measures the amount of PSA present in a man’s blood. PSA is a protein produced by the cells in the prostate and is constantly circulating through mens blood. The PSA is controversially famous for misdiagnoses and the benefits of early detection are kind of weighed against false results. The test is highly sensitive and basically detects any increase in PSA numbers and returns it as a positive result. Often the cancerous presence it detects is so small it would never be considered life-threatening. Since there is no standard official level of PSA that is considered normal, doctors and the PSA can report false results frequently as every person’s levels are unique and they fluctuate wildly from person to person. Some men with low levels actually have prostate cancer while other men with high levels of PSA do not have cancer, hence the confusion over PSA test results.
Risks to a Prostate
Men more often affected by prostate cancer are older men in their 50s through 70s, African American men, and those who have a family history of the disease. These groups all should undergo testing annually, while men who fall outside of these groups can go every 2 years.
Other doctors may also do a DRE or Digital Rectal Exam. If a doctor does recommend a DRE, patients need to inform their doctor if they suffer from either hemorrhoids or anal fissures, both of which can contribute blood to a test and skew the results negatively. The doctor will look for bumps on the prostate or areas with any abnormalities which can indicate a problem.
Prostate Cancer Facts
Prostate cancer will affect 1 in every 9 men at some point in their lives. The disease affects mainly older men and African-American males. However, if a family member has been diagnosed with prostate cancer that also places a person at an increased risk. Every year over 30,000 new cases are diagnosed while nearly 175,000 men die of the disease. Approximately 60% of cases occur in men over 65 and older with an average age of 66. Prostate cancer is the 2nd leading cause of cancer death in American males behind lung cancer. A serious disease as is any cancer the good news is that prostate cancer is not typically fatal and the 5-year survival rate is nearly 100% with the 10-year survival rate a staggering 98%. Sadly, if not caught in time and it spreads to other body parts, the rate of survival drops to around 30%.
Steps to Lower the Risk of Prostate Cancer
While no absolute way exists to completely prevent prostate cancer, dietary means, weight control, and exercise can assist in lowering your risk. Eating a low-fat diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables while cutting down on dairy can help you lower your risk factors. Also, exercising, keeping your weight within a normal range also helps reduce your risk. If you belong to any at-risk category, you should have a prostate exam done annually after age 40. While a DRE or PSA cannot diagnose prostate cancer, they do reveal any lurking dangers. If your doctor does detect abnormalities, they will order an ultrasound, a prostate biopsy and possibly an MRI to diagnose the presence of any cancer. Because prostate is extremely treatable and rarely fatal, ensure that you lower the danger and have a regular prostate exam. See a doctor who knows the signs and aspects of prostate cancer, like Dr. Richard Natale at Carolina Urology Partners. Don’t put off a simple exam that could reveal a very treatable illness before it has a chance to spread. Call Dr. Natale at (704) 786-5131 or request an appointment by clicking here.