People get up super early to wait in line for a Black Friday sale, they arrive at the airport extra early to avoid missing a flight, and some will even finish a work project early just to get it off the desk.
So why procrastinate one small act that could determine life and death?
A prostate screening is just that: A minor undertaking that could ensure the patient is successfully treated for prostate cancer. Nearly 248,600 new cases are expected to be diagnosed in 2021, according to the American Cancer Society.
Yet more than 34,100 men are expected to die from the disease in 2021. If caught early, your survival rate increases dramatically.
Ready for your screening? This is what you can expect.
I’m Your Prostate – I’m Bigger Today Than Yesterday
Just because a man feels healthy doesn’t mean his prostate is healthy. The prostate begins steadily growing at around the age of 25, and it never stops, which can make it more vulnerable to abnormal cell growth.
This growth is very slow-going, however, so symptoms of prostate cancer can be hard to recognize. These symptoms include increased urination, a weak urine stream, and difficulty with starting and stopping. Men with prostate cancer may also experience blood in their urine or semen, and pain in the lower back.
An early screening can detect prostate cancer even before the patient experiences symptoms. Common screening options include:
A digital rectal exam (DRE): The urologist inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into the patient’s rectum to feel the prostate gland. This part of the exam lasts mere seconds.
A prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test: A blood sample is taken to gauge antigen levels in the prostate, which tend to elevate when cancer is present. Research conducted in 2017 concluded that a PSA test can reduce prostate cancer mortality by nearly 30%.
If the results are abnormal, the doctor may prescribe an ultrasound or biopsy.
Older Men and Black Men at Greater Risk
Despite the high recovery rates among men whose prostate cancer is detected early, just 39% of men aged 55 to 69 underwent a PSA screening in 2018 (most recent research available). Among non-Hispanic Black men, it was 37%.
That decline is likely because in 2018, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended to slow PSA screenings, urologists are concerned this has led to a growing trend in patients presenting with advanced prostate cancer.
But as urologists, we know that if found early, prostate cancer is not only more effectively treatable, but the patient also is able to explore more options for treatment.
Early Detection Means More Choices
This month, let’s strive to raise these figures for two key reasons:
Prostate cancer is more likely to develop in older men. Roughly six cases in 10 are diagnosed in men who are 65 or older, with the average age at 66.
Black men are 50% more likely to develop prostate cancer in their lifetimes, and twice as likely to perish from it.
Other risk factors include genetics (family history), diet, obesity, and smoking.
Treatments can range from observation – some prostate cancers are so slow-growing they may not even cause symptoms – to prostate removal.
The earlier the screening, the better. Then you and your loved ones can enjoy the things in life that are worth waiting for.
Learn more about prostate cancer, diagnostics, and treatments by visiting our dedicated page here.
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