The average age of a man first diagnosed with prostate cancer is 66. When caught early, prostate cancer can be highly curable. This is why men should get screened starting at age 50, or sooner if you are at higher risk.
If your father or brother have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, then you are at higher risk. If you are African American, you are at higher risk. If you have inherited gene mutations, you can be at higher risk.
Prostate cancer is common, and curable. One in eight men are diagnosed with the disease in his lifetime, and nine in 10 cases can be cured if caught early, through a physical exam and blood test.
Yet prostate cancer also is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in men. This is why we talk about the importance of screenings in September, Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. More than 3.1 million men diagnosed with prostate cancer are alive today, thanks to preventive screenings and breakthrough treatments.
What to Expect from a Prostate Cancer Screening
You should begin getting routine prostate cancer screenings at age 50 – or at age 45 if you are at high risk.
The screening may include a digital exam, in which the doctor inserts a gloved finger into the rectum, to detect abnormalities. Many prostate cancers can’t be felt through a rectal exam, however, so physicians often advise a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test, as well.
A PSA is a protein all prostate cells, including cancerous cells, produce. Some of this protein is passed into the bloodstream, so men with prostate cancer typically have high PSA levels, which the test measures.
These early tests are significant because there is no standardized, or “normal,” level of PSA; it varies from man to man. An early screening will help establish your healthy baseline.
If You Have Prostate Cancer, You Have Choices
If you are diagnosed with low-risk cancer, your physician might prescribe surveillance and follow-up biopsies. If the disease is more aggressive, other treatments can be pursued. Among them:
- Surgery – The prostate can be removed, often through minimally invasive robotic surgery.
- Cryotherapy – Also called cryosurgery or cryoablation, this therapy uses very cold temperatures to freeze and kill prostate cancer cells.
- Radiation therapy:
- Intensity modulated radiation therapy – Computer-guided radiation is targeted at the cancer cells in daily sessions, over several weeks.
- Brachytherapy – Radioactive treatments are delivered directly into the prostate in 1-2 treatments.
If the cancer has spread beyond the prostate, our Advanced Prostate Cancer physicians also provide these treatments:
- Hormone therapy – These medications block the production of testosterone, which feeds cancer cells. Without its energy source, the cancer slows and potentially shrinks.
- Advanced immunotherapy – This treatment stimulates your body’s immune system to find and destroy cancer cells, with advancements helping the body track down more elusive cancer cells.
- Chemotherapy – Advised for cancers that do not respond to other therapies, chemotherapy is a drug combination tailored to destroy cancer cells over a number of treatments.
- Radioligand targeted therapy – This medication delivers radiation directly to cancer cells via a molecule that binds to specific cancer cell markers.
You Can Prevent Long-Term Prostate Cancer
There are many treatments for prostate cancer, but no amount of research can guarantee the best approach for you. Research has concluded, however, that an early diagnosis will improve your treatment’s success.
When you choose to be screened, you have taken the first step toward a cancer-free life.
Do you have questions about prostate cancer? You can learn more about the risks, symptoms, and stages of prostate cancer on our website.