DENVER - The statistics are stark. One in six American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime.
The disease is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Colorado today. More than 3,000 men in our state will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2012.
Men are often reluctant to be poked and prodded by a doctor. However, a prostate cancer screening takes less than 10 minutes and the results can be life-saving. Prostate cancer screenings include a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test and a digital rectal exam.
All men should have a baseline prostate cancer screening at age 40. For high-risk men, such as African American men or men with a family history of prostate cancer, baseline screenings are recommended at age 35.
There has been a lot of controversy over whether or not men should be screened for prostate cancer following recommendations issued by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force in May.
The government panel gave PSA screening a D rating – don’t recommend – for healthy men. This recommendation was given despite significant opposition from urologists, oncologists, patients and advocacy groups across the country.
The largest study on prostate cancer screening, the European Randomized Study for the Screening of Prostate Cancer, published its findings in the March 2012 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
This study actually demonstrated a 21 percent survival advantage to PSA screening for all patients and for those with the longest follow-up (over 10 years) this increased to 38 percent.
This is consistent with experience in the U.S., where death rates from prostate cancer have declined by nearly 40 percent over the last two decades.
It is clear that through screening, prostate cancer is being detected at earlier stages and more lives are being saved as a result.
There are often no early signs or symptoms of prostate cancer. By the time those symptoms manifest, the cancer may have metastasized and treatment options, as well as positive outcomes, are limited. The PSA test remains the best option available today to help men assess their risk for prostate cancer and then determine the appropriate treatment with their doctor.
When prostate cancer is diagnosed in its earliest stages, the disease is treatable and survivable, with cure rates often greater than 80 percent. Before PSA screenings, urologists could diagnose up to 40 percent of prostate cancer patients as metastatic or advanced stage. Today, thanks to screening and early detection, diagnosing a metastatic patient is incredibly rare.
If a man is diagnosed with prostate cancer following a screening and prostate biopsy, there are many different treatments available.
Advancements in technology have pushed researchers and urologists to develop highly effective, minimally invasive treatments that get prostate cancer patients back to normal activity much faster.
My advice to Colorado men? Get screened. Be informed. Save your life.
Learn more about prostate cancer screening, treatment and research advancements at www.tucc.com.
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