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HealthFix: Prostate cancer screening and treatment options

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Posted at 7:58 AM, Sep 18, 2014
and last updated 2014-09-18 10:10:57-04

The prostate gland is part of the male reproductive system. It produces prostatic fluid, which helps to protect the semen. Cancer cells can grow in the prostate, especially as men age. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer, except for skin cancer, found in American men.

Prostate Cancer Screening—Is it right for you?

There are two screening tests commonly used to detect prostate cancer—digital rectal exam (DRE) and prostate specific antigen (PSA) test. The American Cancer Society does not recommend that all men get screened for prostate cancer. This decision should be up to the patient and his doctor after learning more about risks and possible benefits. Currently, there is no perfect test to detect all types of prostate cancer.

Digital rectal exam: This screening test allows a doctor to feel for lumps or abnormalities and feel the size and texture of the prostate gland. Although this type of screening is common, most cancers cannot be felt by rectal exam.

Prostate-specific Antigen (PSA) test: This type of test measures the level of PSA in blood. PSA is a protein made by the prostate gland, and the levels can be higher in men who have prostate cancer. However, PSA levels may be elevated from other conditions and factors, such as age and race.

Bottom line, educate yourself about both types of prostate screenings and talk to your doctor about the risks and potential benefits before making a decision.

Prostate Cancer Treatment

Treatment often depends on the type of prostate cancer you have and the severity.

Active surveillance: A doctor closely monitors the prostate cancer by performing screening tests. Some prostate cancers grow so slowly and do not ever reach a level of concern. Additional treatment may be required only if the cancer grows or causes symptoms.

Prostatectomy: During this surgical procedure, a surgeon removes the prostate and may remove surrounding tissues.

Radiation therapy: There are two types of radiation therapy using high-energy rays to kill the cancer—external radiation and internal radiation (brachytherapy).

Hormone therapy: This type of therapy blocks cancer cells from receiving the hormones they need to continue to grow.

Dr. Justin Parkinson
Jordan Valley Medical Center
Jordanvalleymc.com