Prostate Cancer Awareness Month is about being aware and informed
SGCMH to offer free prostate screenings September 11
As the month of September brings prostate cancer into focus, it’s time to increase public understanding of the disease, including its prevalence and detection through screenings.
“It’s an alarming disease, said Kim Browne, MSN, ANP-NC, CUNP at Ste. Genevieve County Memorial Hospital’s Urology Services. “Most people don’t realize that one in seven men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. It’s just as prevalent as breast cancer in women. Even more alarming, 1 in 39 men die of prostate cancer.”
According to Browne, the best option for reducing prostate-cancer related deaths over the past two decades has been early diagnosis, leading to early detection at more treatable stages.
“Currently, the best screening method is a combination of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing and a digital rectal exam (DRE). If the PSA numbers come back abnormal, you have a conversation with your urologist about what that might mean.”
Brown did explain that the PSA test is not without controversy.
“The PSA is the only blood test that we have right now to screen for prostate cancer,” she explained. “The issue with the PSA is that it can go up for many reasons. The numbers can be elevated if you have an enlarged prostate, a prostate infection, or inflammation in the prostate. If you’re an active guy for example, riding tractors, horses or ATVs-- just that physical activity can increase the PSA reading. So the normal range is zero to four. If we get numbers that are over four we consider all those variables before we discuss biopsy. Whatever the reason for the elevated PSA, it’s a good idea to check into the possible reasons.”
Unless you have a screening like the PSA, you really don’t know if you have prostate cancer.
“There really are no symptoms,” said Browne. “As men age, their prostate may get larger. Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) often occurs. They might have an interrupted urine stream, slow flow, even an overactive bladder. BPH, however, is not an indicator of cancer, nor does it lead to cancer. But BPH and cancer can happen at the same time.”
The good news is, prostate cancer is very treatable.
“The earlier it’s found the more likely you are to survive,” Browne explained. The latest data shows almost a 100% percent survival with early detection. Very rarely is prostate cancer aggressive. It’s usually a very slow growing cancer. People can live five to ten years without treatment.”
The latest PSA screening recommendations according to the American Cancer Society are:
• Age 50 for men who are at average risk of prostate cancer and are expected to live at least 10 more years.
• Age 45 for men at high risk of developing prostate cancer. This includes African Americans and men who have a first-degree relative (father, brother, or son) diagnosed with prostate cancer at an early age (younger than age 65).
• Age 40 for men at even higher risk (those with more than one first-degree relative who had prostate cancer at an early age).
Ste. Genevieve County Memorial Hospital is offering free PSA screenings on Sunday, September 11 from 7:30-9:30 am. Call 573-883-4402 for a time slot. The blood test will take ten minutes or less, and results of the test will be sent to the participant’s primary care provider.