September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. Lake Regional Urologist Eric McQueary, D.O., is encouraging men to talk with their doctors about the pros and cons of screening with a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test. This simple blood test can find prostate cancer early.
“In some cases, early treatment can give men a better chance of survival,” Dr. McQueary said.
But the test isn’t perfect. Other conditions besides cancer can increase PSA levels. As a result, the test might suggest cancer when no cancer is present. And sometimes, it finds cancers that could safely be ignored.
“You might think all cancer should be treated, but many prostate cancers never develop into a real threat,” Dr. McQueary said. “In these cases, treatment offers no benefit but might put men at risk for serious harms, including incontinence and erectile dysfunction. The risks of overtreatment need to be considered along with the benefits of screening.”
Looking at the pros and cons, experts have not been able to say whether PSA testing is something all men should do. Instead, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommends that every man between the ages of 55 and 69 consider the benefits and risks with his doctor and make a decision based on his individual situation. Screening is not recommended for men 70 years old and older.
“Many men who talk with their doctors decide they want the screening, and these men should receive it,” Dr. McQueary said. “Having learned about the pros and cons, they have a better understanding of what the results mean and are better prepared to choose their next step.”
When a man is diagnosed with prostate cancer, the treatment plan depends on his personal situation. Some men need only close monitoring with follow-up visits, while others need radiation or surgery. When surgery is needed, Dr. McQueary uses a da Vinci X robotic surgery system.
Compared to traditional minimally invasive prostate surgery, da Vinci surgeries have many potential benefits, including fewer complications, a shorter hospital stay, and a faster return of pre-surgery erectile function and urinary continence. The system provides a magnified view inside the body, so surgeons see in much greater detail. The system also enables surgeons to reach more places. It has tiny instruments that bend and rotate far greater than the human hand. Plus, these instruments minimize hand tremors. All of this results in more precise surgeries.
Dr. McQueary has performed hundreds of da Vinci surgeries.
“I am present with the patient in the operating room throughout the procedure, and I am always fully in charge of how the instruments move,” he said. “I control the instruments as extensions of my hands.”
Osage Beach Health Fair
The blood test to screen for prostate cancer will be available for $15 at the Osage Beach Health Fair, scheduled from 7:30 to 11 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 24, at the Elk’s Lodge, 5161 Osage Beach Parkway. Learn more and register at lakeregional.com/osagebeachfair.