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Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Don’t Hit Snooze on Your Prostate Cancer Screening

Posted By: Advancing Care

Prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death for American men. In fact, about one in every eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society. While prostate cancer is a serious condition, it’s very treatable when caught in its early stages.

Here’s what you should know about prostate cancer screening and why it’s so important.

Prostate Screenings

Prostate cancer usually doesn’t present with symptoms until it’s in its late stages. “Without screening, most men with prostate cancer would be unaware of its presence,” says Mitchell Fraiman, MD, Chief of Urology at WMCHealth’s Bon Secours Urology. The main screening tool used to detect prostate cancer is a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. This is a blood test to measure your body’s level of PSA — a protein found in both cancerous and non-cancerous prostate tissue.

Mitchell Fraiman, MD
Mitchell Fraiman, MD

Prostate cancer can cause an elevated level of PSA, but so can a few other conditions like benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), also known as an enlarged prostate. Another test usually used alongside a PSA test to screen for prostate cancer is a digital rectal exam. During this exam, your doctor will feel for any abnormal lumps or bumps on your prostate.

If you receive abnormal results of either of these tests, your doctor will likely recommend a prostate biopsy.MRI is usually now performed prior to biopsy at Bon Secours Urology, as an additional diagnostic tool.The MRI helps identify areas of concern so any biopsy performed is much more accurate than a standard random biopsy.“At Bon Secours Urology, patients can benefit from biopsies conducted using fusion-guided magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), a method that combines an MRI scan with an ultrasound image to precisely target the area of the prostate that’s being biopsied,” says Dr. Fraiman. “This method leads to quicker and more accurate diagnoses along with better treatment plans.”

Early Prostate Cancer Treatment

While you may be wary of getting screened for prostate cancer, catching abnormalities early can mean much easier treatment than later stages of cancer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that out of every 1,000 men between the ages of 55 and 60 who are screened, three will be prevented from getting prostate cancer that spreads to other areas of the body.

Treatment for early stages of prostate cancer includes both non- or minimally invasive methods, including radiation treatment, hormone therapy, high-intensity focused ultrasound and cryotherapy. “Treatment methods for prostate cancer have come a long way,” says Dr. Fraiman. “We have quicker and more precise radiation tools that limit negative side effects for patients.”

In some cases, prostate cancer may require surgery such as a prostatectomy, or removal of the prostate. It’s also possible that your doctor will recommend a period of expectant management if the cancer is growing slowly. “Expectant management may be active surveillance - a method of closely monitoring the tumor and waiting to treat it only if disease progression is suspected, or watchful waiting - a method of only treating symptoms as they arise, usually used for those who are expected to live less than 10 more years,” says Dr. Fraiman.

Treating Other Prostate Conditions

While prostate cancer is common, it’s not the only reason for elevated PSA levels. BPH, a non-cancerous growth of cells in the prostate, can result in difficulty urinating or frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs). Just like prostate cancer, BPH can be treated with a number of non- and minimally invasive therapies and surgeries.

“Many treatment options for BPH involve shrinking or removingthe benign tissue of the prostate in various ways,” says Dr. Fraiman. “One method that we use at Bon Secours Urology is water vapor therapy, a first-of-its-kind minimally invasive procedure that uses water vapor to shrink cells and has shown to significantly reduce the symptoms of BPH.” This treatment is called REZUM and hundreds of patients have been alleviated of their symptoms by the physicians at Bon Secours Urology using this technology.

It’s important to visit your doctor regularly to maintain a healthy lifestyle and get screened whenever appropriate. If you have questions about prostate cancer screening or want to know more about  advanced urological procedures available, contact Bon Secours Urology.