Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths for men. About 30,000 men die of this disease each year.
The risk factors for prostate cancer are:
- Being over 50 years of age
- Being African American
- Eating a diet high in animal fat and low in fruits and vegetables
- Family history of prostate cancer
If you are a man over 50 years old, it is important to understand prostate cancer screening. There are two parts of the screening:
1. A digital rectal exam
A physical screening that is performed by your doctor where your doctor checks the size and feel of your prostate
2. The PSA (prostate-specific antigen) blood test
The PSA test is not uniformly recommended to be done on men 50 years old and older. It is a decision made between you and your doctor based on the benefits and harm associated with a positive test. Although the goal of cancer screening is to find cancer early and treat it, there are a few things to consider with your doctor when deciding whether to get a PSA test:
- The PSA test is not perfect. Many men who have a high PSA number do not actually have cancer. They therefore need an additional test, called a biopsy, to determine if there is prostate cancer. A biopsy can diagnose prostate cancer but can cause problems such as fever, infection, bleeding and urinary problems.
- Some men have a very unaggressive type of prostate cancer that grows very slowly. When a cancer is slow growing, it often does not need to be treated because it may never affect a man’s health. However, most men with prostate cancer do require treatment.
- The treatment for prostate cancer, removing the prostate or radiation, can cause long-term side effects such as loss of bladder control and erectile dysfunction.
It is important to talk with a doctor about your risk for prostate cancer and the PSA test. Call 212-206-2755 to schedule an appointment with a primary care doctor at Union Health Center.