Prostate Cancer and PSA Screening: a Must Read

First, prostate cancer is not your typical cancer. It tends to spread slowly in the overwhelming majority of men afflicted. The insidious nature of prostate cancer means that if a man is diagnosed at age 60, it is very likely the disease will not progress for many years before causing any serious complications or risk to one’s life.Treatment options for prostate cancer are numerous and range from targeted chemotherapy or radiation to surgery to oral hormone therapy.

Which treatment is best is dependent on whether the cancer has spread outside of the prostate and the extent of the spread.

Symptoms can start at age 40 or earlier Lately, medical authorities are revisiting the two-decades-old question of prostate specific antigen (PSA) screening. Physicians routinely discuss PSA testing with men ages 40 and over as this is the age when men typically begin to notice symptoms of an enlarged prostate. Some physicians recommend PSA screening at an even earlier age, so don’t wait until you have symptoms. These symptoms may include more frequent urination, decreased urinary stream, trouble fully emptying the bladder, and/or nighttime awakening to urinate. Examination of the prostate entails a digital rectal exam to assess for the prostate’s size, contour, shape and to detect any nodular growths that may indicate an underlying cancer. Because digital rectal exam can assess only the surface of the prostate gland, PSA testing is often recommended by medical practitioners to complement the screening for cancer.

Long-term scientific trials have been undertaken to determine the benefits of PSA testing. The outcomes are mixed.

One recently completed study done in the United States confirmed that PSA testing did not lessen the overall death rate due to prostate cancer. Another European study involving 18,000 men had a slightly different outcome. This study concluded that there was some benefit in reducing overall death due to prostate cancer in men who were screened using PSA testing, compared to men who were not screened.

Unfortunately, prostate cancer is rather common. Many men will have this disease and be blissfully unaware, regardless of whether or not they took a PSA test. The decision to screen with the PSA test should be discussed with a trusted healthcare practitioner.

Lowering the risk of prostate cancer and prostate problems can be accomplished by eating a low saturated-fat diet, consuming fresh fruits and vegetables with plenty of antioxidants and appropriate supplemental products designed to facilitate proper prostate function.

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