September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. Lake Regional Urologist Eric McQueary, D.O., encourages men to get informed to protect their health.
“After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men,” Dr. McQueary said. “Detecting certain types of prostate cancer early is critical.”
Prostate cancer kills more than 30,000 men in the United States every year. According to the American Cancer Society, screening can help find many prostate cancers early, but men need to understand how their results will be used.
Cancer screening is used to look for disease before patients notice problems. The idea is to catch the cancer early, when it’s easiest to treat. For prostate cancer, an important screening is the prostate specific antigen (PSA) test. 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 very slow-growing cancers that would never develop into a real threat.
“Men should talk with their primary care provider about when to begin screening,” Dr. McQueary said. “They also should talk about what a positive test means and what it doesn’t mean. In the case that cancer is found, immediate treatment is not always necessary. It can depend on the stage of cancer, the man’s age and other factors.”
Treatment of prostate cancer may include:
- close monitoring and follow-up visits
- surgery to remove the prostate
When surgery is needed, Dr. McQueary generally uses Lake Regional’s da Vinci X robotic surgery system. 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 more than the human hand. Plus, these instruments minimize hand tremors. All of this results in more precise surgeries.
Questions Men Can Ask Their Doctors about Prostate Cancer
- Am I at greater risk for prostate cancer?
- At what age should I start to think about screening for prostate cancer?
- If I get my blood test and it is not normal, what other things could I have besides prostate cancer?
- What is a biopsy, and how is it done?
- What are the side effects or risks of a biopsy?
- If my biopsy shows some cancer cells, what does that mean?
- What are the side effects or risks of each treatment (close monitoring with follow-up appointments; radiation; or surgery to remove the prostate)?