The older a man is, the greater his risk for getting prostate cancer – one of the most common cancers and the second leading cause of cancer deaths in men. If caught early, however, survival rates are 90-100%.*
Conflicting reports about the benefits of early screening have been in the news, but the fact remains that the PSA blood test (which tests for elevated levels of prostate-specific antigen) and DRE (digital rectal exam) can detect prostate cancer at its earliest stage when many options are available for treatment and cure. Both the American Cancer Society and the American Urological Association (AUA) recommend that you talk with your doctor about the pros and cons of screening depending on your age, health and risk factors. Men at higher risk include African Americans and those with a family history of prostate cancer.
If you decide to be tested, the AUA recommends that men of average risk get a baseline PSA and DRE at age 40**. Your doctor can help you decide how often to be screened based on your test results and risk factors.
If cancer is detected and confirmed with a biopsy, there are a variety of treatment options depending on the age of the patient and stage of cancer, says urologist Michael Traver, MD, of Western Michigan Urological Associates (WMUA). “Treatments are highly individualized for each patient and include surveillance (or ‘watchful waiting’) to monitor how active the disease is, radiation therapy, and surgical removal of the prostate gland, called a prostatectomy.”
For patients undergoing surgery, Holland Hospital’s da Vinci Surgical System offers a minimally-invasive alternative to open surgery. The state-of-the-art robotic system scales the surgeon’s hand movements down to micro-movements of tiny surgical instruments, requiring only small keyhole incisions.
“Benefits for the patient include less blood loss and a quicker recovery,” notes Dr. Traver, who has performed hundreds of robotic prostatectomies. He is one of several WMUA physicians with advanced training and extensive experience on the da Vinci system.
About one in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. Talk with your doctor to see if you would benefit from screening.
* Source: American Cancer Society, www.cancer.org.
** Source: American Urological Association, auanet.org.