Paying attention to prostate health gives men the best chance to prevent and treat prostate cancer so they can live long, healthy lives for themselves and their loved ones. The best defense against prostate cancer is gaining a better understanding of the disease including risk factors and potential symptoms.
Every patient at Alameda Health System (AHS) is unique and not all prostate cancer journeys are alike. What they do share in common, is the importance of early detection to achieve the best possible outcomes.
The American Urological Association (AUA) guidelines recommend routine screening for men between 55 and 69 years old. However, those with a higher risk should begin screening earlier.
“African American men are at an increased risk for developing prostate cancer over white men and other men of color,” says Dr. Timothy Ito, Urology Oncology at AHS-Highland Hospital. One in seven African American men will develop prostate cancer in his lifetime and are almost twice as likely as white men to be diagnosed with the disease.
While reasons for these differences have not been defined, the literature suggests possible contributing factors to the higher risk for African Americans and prostate cancer may be tied to social determinants of health including living environment, smoking, poor diet, and lack of exercise.
“The racial disparities in prostate cancer continue to be studied but what we do know is that in addition to ethnicity, a patient’s family history and age put them at higher risk,” says Dr. Knopf, Oncology at AHS-Highland.
While the chance of getting prostate cancer increases with age Knopf shares that a male patient of any age who has difficulty with urination should see their Primary Care Physician (PCP) right away. This is a symptom that should be explored immediately to rule out the potential for prostate cancer.
Unfortunately, often there are no symptoms, but prostate screenings are still an option. Beginning at age 40 patients should speak with their PCP about the benefits and limitations of prostate screening.
“Choosing whether or not to get a prostate screening should remain a discussion between a patient and their physician to enable the patient to make an informed decision,” says Knopf. “As a patient-centered health care system, the patient is at the center of everything we do, and their voice is critical in determining what is best for them.”
Screening may include prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test. However, while it’s true that a high PSA level can be the first sign of prostate cancer, test results can also be a sign of something much less serious.
For patients who are diagnosed with prostate cancer, the treatment can range from active surveillance (monitoring the disease with no immediate intervention) to radiation and surgery. Active surveillance is an option for men who have a low risk of their cancer spreading. Men on active surveillance typically have blood tests every 6-12 months to monitor their PSA levels and prostate exams every 12 months.
In addition, Knopf says, “There have been a lot of improvements in surgical techniques, radiation and hormone therapy as well as chemotherapy over the last 10 years. “At AHS we have an outstanding integrated team of urologists, radiation oncologists and medical oncologists working together to treat prostate cancer and to deliver the best outcomes for our patients.”
For more tools and resources for identifying signs and symptoms of prostate cancer and maintaining prostate health, visit: