More than 200,000 American men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year.
It's unlikely most men spend as much time thinking about prostates as I do (occupational hazard), but with September being prostate cancer awareness month it is a good opportunity for all of us who have a gland ourselves, or a loved one with a gland, to pause and think for a moment about the number one cause of cancer (non-skin) in men. In fact, over 200,000 American men are diagnosed with the disease each year.
Happily, prostate cancer is usually quite treatable with over 98% of men alive at five years after diagnosis. Nevertheless, certain cases of the disease may present in younger men, or with aggressive biology and consequently may threaten a patient's life, and every diagnosis of prostate cancer has huge implications on a patient's quality of life.
Screening for prostate cancer is important because early detection allows the disease to be treated with fewer side effects. When the disease is caught early, cure rates after treatment are also more favorable. Screening techniques for prostate cancer include the prostate-specific antigen blood test (PSA), as well as digital rectal examination performed by either a urologist or an internal medicine physician.
It is important to understand that neither screening test is perfect, and a decision to move forward with further diagnostic studies including MRI of the gland, or prostate biopsy should be made after discussing the benefits and potential side effects in consultation with a board-certified urologist.