- Its more common than breast cancer.
For men at average risk, about one man in seven will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime. According to the National Cancer Institute, it’s the second most common cancer for men, representing 7 percent of cancer diagnoses each year, and 4.4 percent of cancer deaths.
- Early detection greatly increases survival rates.
Most prostate cancers grow slowly and if the cancer is caught at its earliest stages, the disease is extremely treatable.
- Some men have no symptoms.
Early detection of prostate cancer is important, but it can be difficult because oftentimes men don’t experience any symptoms in the early stages. Assessing risk factors such as age, family history and race as well as discussing prostate cancer screening with your doctor will help you to identify your risk of developing prostate cancer.
- Current screening tools tell only part of the story.
Screening often begins with a blood test to measure the level of prostate specific antigen (PSA). If elevated, it might indicate cancer and doctors are tasked with discovering more. After an elevated PSA, the next step is a needle biopsy, where a doctor takes multiple samples from the prostate and has them tested for cancer. While the PSA test is a relatively simple and inexpensive blood test, the biopsy is very invasive, done by inserting a thin needle through the rectum, and costs an average of $2,000. The PSA test combined with the random biopsy may miss a potential cancer or indicate the need for more testing. Often, the result is that the patient needs to be continuously monitored since the tests are not able to identify if a cancer is present or if it is aggressive.
- MRI has been called the “mammogram” for prostate cancer.
Many specialists are turning to advanced imaging as a way to reduce unnecessary prostate biopsies following an elevated PSA. Multiparametric MRI (mpMRI) can reveal the size and density of a prostate cancer, and how well-connected it is to the blood supply. While this newer test is not as common as biopsies, when combined with ultrasound, the hope is that it will be more precise and reduce the number of invasive biopsies needed. The benefits of mpMRI from a patient comfort standpoint are also positive – it is a non-invasive test that is extremely precise with no radiation or side effects.
Shields Health Care Group Blog
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