Setting the record straight on prostate cancer
If you or someone you love is ignoring a prostate cancer screening out of fear or misperception, what you don’t know about the disease could ultimately hurt you. Ask yourself, “Is what I know about prostate cancer true?” Dr. Rodney Geier, a radiation oncologist with The Christ Hospital Medical Associates, sets the record straight on prostate cancer and steps to detect it.
Myth: Prostate cancer is an old man’s disease.
Fact: Men of all ages can get prostate cancer, yet certain risk factors make it more likely. Men over age 65, African Americans and those with a family history of the disease are at higher risk.
Doctor’s Orders: If a first- or second-degree relative, such as your brother or uncle, had prostate cancer, schedule your first screening as early as age 40.
Myth: High PSA levels equal prostate cancer.
Fact: High prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood levels can have many causes, such as an enlarged, infected or inflamed prostate. On the other hand, even patients with low PSA levels between 0 and 4 can later have prostate cancer, says Dr. Geier. Very high levels (above 5) or dramatic increases (from 2 to 3.5 in one year, for example) might warrant a biopsy or close monitoring.
Doctor’s Orders: Get a baseline PSA test starting at age 50. It will give your doctor something to reference during future follow-up screenings.
Myth: Digital-rectal exams (DREs) are an old-school method to detect prostate problems.
Fact: DREs can help doctors palpate the prostate for abnormalities and should be used in conjunction with a PSA test. “They’re still an important part of the prostate cancer screening,” Dr. Geier says. “They can even find abnormalities when the PSA test reads normal.”
Doctor’s Orders: Schedule your annual prostate exam and ask your doctor to include a DRE. There’s nothing embarrassing about safeguarding your health.
Myth: Few men actually die from prostate cancer.
Fact: Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among men in the United States. If detected early, chances are it can be successfully treated. “The great news is, we are finding prostate cancer earlier, so we’re having much better outcomes,” Dr. Geier says. “This doesn’t dismiss that it’s still a deadly disease in men.”
Doctor’s Orders: Be aware of your body’s changes and stick to the screening schedule. Schedule a prostate exam if you’re age 50 or if you notice any of the following symptoms:
- Delayed or slow start of urination
- Blood in the urine
- Pain with urination, ejaculation or bowel movement
- Lower back, thigh or hip pain
- Excessive urination at night
Myth: Prostate cancer treatment will cause bad side effects.
Fact: Prostate cancer treatment outcomes vary, depending on the stage of the disease and when it was diagnosed. Hormone therapy, radiation and minimally invasive surgery are all options for treating the disease. “Robotic prostatectomy and seed implant radiation therapy have become more precise with faster healing time and fewer side effects,” Dr. Geier says. “The important thing to remember is that most prostate cancers have a very high cure rate (more than 90 percent in the first five years) if addressed early.”
Doctor’s Orders: If you’re diagnosed with prostate cancer, stay positive. Your doctor will discuss every possible treatment option with you so you can make the best decision for your wellbeing.
Protect your prostate health by scheduling a prostate exam. Find a physician who can help by calling 1-877-904-4YOU or visiting www.TheChristHospital.com