September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month and the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO) is encouraging men to get educated when it comes to prostate cancer awareness, screening and their treatment options.
This year, an estimated 234,460 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society. Fortunately, screening for prostate cancer is relatively easy.
Screening for prostate cancer is done through a simple blood test called a PSA test. The PSA blood test will detect a specific hormone called the prostate specific antigen. Your doctor will also administer a painless rectal exam in conjunction with the PSA blood test. Unlike screening tests like a colonoscopy or a mammogram, both these tests can be done by your primary care doctor in his or her office. If either is abnormal, you will need to undergo a biopsy to see if you have cancer.
Treatment for prostate cancer is different for each man, depending on his age, medical history and the stage of cancer. Treatment could include eternal beam radiation, radioactive seed implants, surgery, hormone therapy, chemotherapy or a combination of treatments.
"Fortunately, through early detection and excellent treatments, nearly 100 percent of men with prostate cancer will live five years after their diagnosis," said Thomas Eichler, M.D., a radiation oncologist at CJW Medical Center in Richmond, Va., and Chair of the ASTRO Communications Committee. "This disease is absolutely curable if caught early so men over age 50 should plan on getting tested regularly. It's also important for women to encourage their fathers, brothers, husbands, sons and other loved ones to be tested."
Many patients do not experience initial symptoms of prostate cancer, making it important for men who are aged 50 and older to have routine screenings for the disease. More than half, 65 percent, of men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer are 65 and older. Some patients may experience symptoms like urinary problems and continual pain in the lower back, pelvis or lower body.