SEPTEMBER IS PROSTATE CANCER AWARENESS MONTH
KNOW PROSTATE CANCER BASICS
Cancer Screening Save Lives
Most men do not openly discussed their health. Surveys show that most men think they are healthy, even if they have a few dire diagnosis. Optimism? Head in the sand? Whichever the consensus, cancer screening save lives. While there are many types of cancers, Prostate Cancer, is one of the few that has a somewhat “predictable” blood indicator: the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA). Only men have PROSTATE – women do not have a prostate gland – and therefore, prostate cancer is specific to males (simple, I know, but this a place where everyone can learn 🙂 Register for WEBINAR on Prostate Cancer in Black Men
So what’s the fuss?
Men – your brother, husband, uncle, boyfriend, grandpa, cousins, friends – are dying needlessly from this disease. Prostate cancer is the second leading of cause of death in men in the United States. So what can you do to make a difference? There are a few things you should know.
What Is You Family History?
Why is your family history important? Because it tells you, based on your genetics, your risk for certain types of cancers. Therefore, one of the most important thing to know is your family history for cancer. This information is very important, because it allows your doctor to consider specific types of cancer risk to discuss with you and best cancer screening approach. There are also some genetic disorders that may increase your risk for cancer.
Remember, if your father had prostate cancer, you should begin screening 10yrs younger, or at the recommended age of screening, whichever is younger. For example:
- If Father had prostate cancer at age 71, then sons should begin screening at 40 (if Black/African American), 50 (if non-Black)
- If father was diagnosed with prostate cancer at age 49, then screening should begin at age 39 – regardless of race – 10 years younger
There are debates among medical professionals that we may be “over-treating” prostate cancer, leading to some doctors no longer doing PSA tests. However, that concern may be a bit premature, as over 27,000 men die annually from prostate cancer…still. African Americans/Black male are at greater risk and many are not being tested and many others do not know their number, or what it (PSA) means.
- Prostate Cancer Screening: At age 40 All African American/Black males should have baseline prostate cancer screening and the frequency thereafter, be discussed with your PCM. If you have a close family member (grandfather, father, or brother) who had prostate cancer before age 65, then prostate cancer screening should begin at age 45 for all others. There are some controversies regarding risk and benefits of using PSA for prostate cancer screening. However, I strongly encourage everyone that is at high risk to have and know their baseline PSA. Did you know, being African American/Black is considered a high risk factor? (smoking is a risk factor for lung cancer; being Black is a risk factor for prostate cancer – the more aggressive form too!) Once you know your baseline PSA, continue at a frequency that is acceptable to both you and your physician (annually, every other year, etc.,). See our previous blog about prostate issues HERE
- Prostate Cancer Screening: It is recommended that all men at average risk for prostate cancer should begin screening at age 50. Prostate cancer screening includes both PSA and digital rectal exam (DRE). Otherwise, as noted above. The PSA is a simple blood test that can be easily added to your other routine blood labs for cholesterol, blood counts, etc.,
KNOW YOUR NUMBER!
KNOW YOUR PSA!
Grant it, I do work in the cancer world, but I have treated multiple men younger than age 50 with metastatic prostate cancer (metastases means cancer spread elsewhere such as bone, liver, lungs, etc.,). I do not agree with that age for screening to being at 55. I’ve been told by patients, that the statistics really does not matter. When the number is ONE…that is, the ONE person affected is you, or your love one all the stats fall by the wayside.
When Should I Be Concerned About My PSA?
The prostate gland gets larger with age…so the PSA will increase. However, you should be referred to Urology if:
- The PSA number is above age range specified above
- The Digital Rectal Exam (DRE) is abnormal (lump felt, generalized firmness, etc.,) – this occurs in ~20% of cases
- The PSA number doubles or increase drastically from base line (therefore MUST know baseline); Your doc may do a trial of antibiotics to rule infection (prostatitis)
- Incidental abnormality on scan taken for other reasons
Now that you know more, speak with your physician to know what’s best for you. Tell your family and friends to do the same – spread the word! Think about the above seriously for all men. You could be saving a life – maybe your own!
Journal and Guide for Your Prostate Cancer Appointments
Until next time know that,
Life is beautiful and God is awesome. And know, you are pure awesomeness!
Ipsa Scientia Potestas est ——— Knowledge itself is power!
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Queen, Your Family Friendly Cancer Doc!