Talk with your doctor about prostate treatments
September 19, 2022
Men of America, September is a good time to get the latest information about prostate health and disease, and the most effective treatments currently available for prostate cancer. September is National Prostate Health Month, also known as National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. Each year, more than 174,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer, and more than 31,000 die from the disease. Most prostate cancer is diagnosed in men older than 65.
Symptoms of prostate cancer include difficulty with urination, but sometimes there are no symptoms at all. Some types of prostate cancer grow slowly, and monitoring is recommended. Other types are aggressive and require a more intense treatment approach. Addressing prostate health and disease begins with a conversation between you and your healthcare provider.
Two tests are commonly used to screen for prostate cancer:
1) The digital rectal exam, in which a provider inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to estimate the size of the prostate and feel for lumps or other abnormalities.
2) The prostate-specific antigen test, which measures the level of PSA in the blood. PSA is a substance made by the prostate. The levels of PSA in the blood can be higher in men who have prostate cancer. The PSA level may also be elevated in other conditions that affect the prostate. As a rule, the higher the PSA level in the blood, the more likely a prostate problem is present. But many factors, such as age and race, can affect PSA levels. Some prostate glands make more PSA than others. So your provider is the best person to interpret your PSA test results. Only a biopsy can diagnose prostate cancer for sure.
Today several types of treatment are available for prostate cancer. You and your provider can decide which treatment is right for you. Some common treatments are:
- Active surveillance. Closely monitoring the prostate cancer by performing prostate specific antigen (PSA) and digital rectal exam (DRE) tests regularly, and treating the cancer only if it grows or causes symptoms.
- Surgery. A prostatectomy is an operation where doctors remove the prostate and surrounding tissue.
- Radiation therapy. Using high-energy rays (similar to X-rays) to kill the cancer.
- Other treatments, such as hormone therapy, cryotherapy, chemotherapy or biological therapy.
- High-intensity focused ultrasound. This therapy directs high-energy sound waves (ultrasound) at the cancer to kill cancer cells.
So have that conversation with your doctor. Together you can map out a plan for the approach to prostate health and disease that will meet your individual needs.