Did you know that prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men? Now… are you asking yourself, "Should I get screened for prostate cancer?" You must make that decision for yourself. That's why it's so important to talk about screening with your doctor. You may feel a bit anxious about this conversation, but remember, there's a great deal at stake—your family, lifestyle, and quality of life.
During Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, take this time to learn about prostate cancer screenings, how to keep your prostate happy, and cancer care at CCP.
Prostate Cancer & Screening
All men are at risk for prostate cancer. Out of every 100 American men, about 13 will get prostate cancer during their lifetime. The most common risk factor is age. The older you are, the greater the chance of getting prostate cancer. But some men are at an increased risk for prostate cancer, like if you are African American or have a family history of prostate cancer.
Different people have different symptoms of prostate cancer. Some men don't show any signs at all. But in rare cases, prostate cancer can show symptoms, such as:
• Difficulty starting urination.
• Weak or interrupted flow of urine.
• Frequent urination, especially at night.
• Difficulty emptying the bladder completely.
• Pain or burning during urination.
• Blood in the urine or semen.
• Pain in the back, hips, or pelvis that doesn't go away.
• Painful ejaculation.
Though, keep in mind that these symptoms may be caused by conditions other than prostate cancer. Prostatitis or BPH (Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy, also known as enlargement of the prostate) are benign diseases but can cause similar symptoms and are very common. Both of which are conditions we treat at Community Care Urology. Remember, symptoms are symptoms, and no matter what is causing them, it’s important to get checked out by a doctor.
Cancer screening means looking for cancer before it causes symptoms. The goal of screening for prostate cancer is to find cancer early that may spread if not treated. There is no standard test to screen for prostate cancer. Though two tests that are commonly used are:
• A blood test called a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. PSA is a substance your prostate makes. This test measures the level of PSA in your blood. Your PSA level may be high if you have prostate cancer and many other reasons, such as having an enlarged prostate, a prostate infection, or taking certain medicines.
• Digital rectal examination (DRE), when a health care provider inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into a man's rectum to feel the prostate for anything abnormal, such as cancer.
Tips for Keeping a Healthy Prostate
When you take care of your prostate health, you give yourself the best chance to prevent and control prostate cancer.
1. Maintain a well-balanced diet. It's probably not your favorite food, but green, leafy vegetables are an excellent step toward a healthy prostate. Green, leafy veggies are full of essential vitamins and antioxidants that keep you and your prostate healthy.
2. Get some Vitamin D! Don't altogether ditch sunscreen, but don't hide from the sun either. Getting little sun exposure can actually increase your risk. The sun gives us a lot of valuable vitamin D, which is a great way to reduce your risk of prostate cancer, while also helping you stay healthy in other ways, too. For example, Vitamin D is good for your heart, kidneys, and pancreas health.
3. Get the recommended screenings. Prostate cancer screening recommendations vary depending on whether you're high-risk or a normal risk. If you are at a higher risk, you should consider getting screened for prostate cancer starting at age 40. On the other hand, if you are at normal risk, we encourage you to consider screenings beginning at age 55.
Thinking About Getting Screened?
With all these varying circumstances, it's helpful to become aware of physical changes with your body, which may signal prostate cancer symptoms. For example, you may experience difficulty starting urination, weak or interrupted urine flow, and pain or burning during urination. We urge you to talk to your doctor about these changes. If you are thinking about being screened, you and your doctor should consider:
• If you have an increased risk of getting prostate cancer.
• If you have any health problems that may make it harder for you to be treated for prostate cancer if it is found, or that may make you less likely to benefit from screening.
• How you feel about the possible benefits and harms of screening, diagnosis, and treatment.
Here are some questions you can ask your doctor about prostate cancer screening:
• Am I at a greater risk for prostate cancer?
• At what age should I start to think about screening for prostate cancer?
• If I get my blood test, and it is not normal, what other things could I have besides prostate cancer?
• What is a biopsy, and how is it done?
• What are the side effects or risks of a biopsy?
• If my biopsy shows some cancer cells, what does that mean?
• Ask about all treatment options: close monitoring and follow-up visits, radiation, or surgery to remove the prostate.
• What are the side effects or risks of each treatment?
Prostate Care at CCP
When treated in its earliest stages, prostate cancer can be cured. Early detection through regular screening is essential. While the PSA and DRE screening tests can suspect cancer, the actual diagnosis can only be made with a prostate biopsy performed by a urologist. If you have any questions or concerns and would like to meet with a urologist, please schedule a visit with one of our urology specialists. Community Care Urology now has three practice locations across the Capital Region in Latham, Clifton Park, and Niskayuna to serve you better!
The Community Care Cancer Care team is here to assist you. When seeking healthcare in the area, patients are not alone. We are pleased to have Karen Houston, our Nurse Navigator, as part of our Cancer Care Program at CCP to help patients and families through the complex world of cancer screening, diagnosis, treatment, and follow up care to make their experience as seamless as possible. Karen is a resource for all questions relating to a patient's care. For more information or to ask a question about our cancer screening, diagnosis, and treatment services, please call Nurse Navigator Karen at (518) 213-0308. We can help you determine which type of doctor or services you need (both internally within CCP and externally, if required).