According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer among American men, mainly affecting men over the age of 65. As men get older, the likelihood of developing prostate cancer increases, therefore, physicians usually recommend that prostate cancer screening begin at age 50. For African American men, or men with a family history of prostate cancer, physicians recommend screening beginning at age 40.
There are currently 2 tests that are most commonly used in the diagnosis of prostate cancer, called the digital rectal exam (DRE) and the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. The DRE is a traditional diagnostic tool for the detection of prostate cancer and is sometimes given during regular "physicals." The doctor feels the prostate through the rectum, checking for irregularities that could indicate the presence of a tumor. Increasingly, doctors use the DRE in conjunction with the PSA test to diagnose prostate cancer. The PSA test is a blood test that searches for a substance called PSA, which may be elevated when there is even the smallest number of cancer-producing cells in the prostate.
If your doctor suspects that there are cancerous cells in your prostate, a biopsy may be recommended. Prostate tissue is removed with a needle and is examined under a microscope. If the biopsy indicates there are cancerous cells in the sample, further tests are done to help determine the level or severity of the cancer, and to aid in treatment decisions.
If prostate cancer is detected early in the course of the disease, chances are that it is localized in the prostate, and is NOT life threatening. However, if it is discovered late, the cancer may have spread to other tissues in the body, outside of the prostate, and can eventually cause death. Approximately 40,000 men die every year from prostate cancer.
There are many ways to treat prostate cancer, most of which are comparably effective. The choice of treatments options depends on different factors including:
When the cancer remains in the prostate, it’s considered “localized” and very curable. The treatment options for localized prostate cancer include: