The physicians at The Urology Group are big supporters of vigorous debate, especially when it comes to patients’ health and the choices they make. But recent reports that question the necessity of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests for prostate cancer force us to get out in front of the issue and defend the importance of the screenings.
Data continues to confirm that early testing for prostate cancer, in particular the use of the PSA test, has contributed to the decline in prostate cancer deaths by nearly 40 percent over the last 20 years. Indeed, The Urology Group alone has treated thousands of patients with prostate cancer and we know for a fact that the early detection the PSA makes possible is the key to recovery and survival. This is particularly the case among high-risk groups such as men with a history of prostate cancer and African American men.
But we also know that it is always the patient’s decision regarding the course of treatment, whether to watch and wait or have surgery.
Here are some prostate cancer facts for patients and families to consider:
- Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of death in American men, second only to lung cancer.
- One in six men will get prostate cancer at some point and nearly 30,000 men will die from the disease this year.
- One in 12,000 men under age 40 will be diagnosed.
- African American men carry the highest rate of prostate cancer in the U.S. with an incidence rate 60 percent higher. They are two-and-a-half times more likely to die from the disease than men of any other ethnic group.
The PSA debate is not a new one; we have made our case before and will continue to do so as long as we believe that PSA screenings save lives. Like any physician, we are in the field because we want to provide advanced care and improve the health of our patients. To support that mission, The Urology Group has invested in an active clinical trials program researching new treatments for a variety of urologic conditions, including prostate cancer (www.urologygroup.com/clinical-trials).
Knowledge empowers you with choice. My advice to all men 50 and older, or to men who are 40 and are African American or have a family history of prostate cancer, is to make a prostate exam a part of your annual checkup. We know screening works and will continue to be an advocate.