THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – With the advent of sophisticated technologies, the fight against prostate cancer has become highly advanced with its technological capabilities and precise delivery of radiation to tumor sites. However, even the most advanced treatments are rendered obsolete if prostate cancer is not detected early. September is “National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month” and experts at Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center are educating men about the importance of prostate cancer screenings and the latest screening guidelines.
The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that in 2013, 238,590 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and 29,720 will lose their lives to it. Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in American men, behind only lung cancer. Prostate cancer can be a serious disease, but most men diagnosed with prostate cancer do not die from it. In fact, more than 2.5 million men in the United States who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point are still alive today.
Prostate cancer is often diagnosed at such an early stage that there are no outward symptoms of disease, which is why many patients are initially alerted to it after having a routine physical or examination for an unrelated concern. Diagnosis usually occurs following an initial screening through a digital rectal examination (DRE) and a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test. An elevated PSA level in the blood stream may indicate prostate cancer, but not always. Therefore, if either the DRE or PSA is abnormal, additional tests including an ultrasound are conducted before a prostate biopsy is performed.
“Prostate cancer is a disease that does not have to be a deadly one,” says Kyle Himsl, M.D., urologist at Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center. “While the statistics and risk factors are alarming, early detection can significantly improve treatment outcomes for those diagnosed.”
The information about if, when and how old men should be when they get screened can be confusing and has recently been a focus of national debate. New guidelines recommended by the American Urological Association (AUA), which are more in line with the ACS’ current recommendations, say men 55 to 69 with average risk of getting prostate cancer should discuss the pros and cons of screening with their doctors. If they choose to undergo screening, they should do so every two years instead of annually. According to the AUA, routine screening is no longer recommended for men of average risk who are younger than 55 or older than 70. Of course, every man is different and age shouldn’t be his only consideration. Dr. Himsl strongly advises men to talk about risk factors, family history, and personal health with their doctor to determine the best prostate health recommendations for them.
And while the new screening guidelines are still being scrutinized by medical professionals and patients alike, Dr. Himsl is reminding patients that early detection is the one thing that we can all agree on as being a key factor to significantly improving treatment outcomes for those diagnosed. “For men over 40 and who have a family history of prostate cancer, they should initiate a conversation with their physician so that they can create a plan of attack about when and how often they should be screened,” adds Dr. Himsl.
For more information about prostate cancer or to schedule a prostate cancer screening, please call 1-877-888-5746 or log on to www.losrobleshospital.com.