September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. Lake Regional Urologist Eric McQueary, D.O., is encouraging men to talk with their doctors about this disease so they can make informed decisions about their health.
“After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men,” Dr. McQueary said. “Detecting certain types of prostate cancer early can be 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 cancers that would never develop into a real threat.
“Most medical groups encourage men in their 50s and 60s to have a discussion with their doctor about the pros and cons of prostate cancer screening,” Dr. McQueary said. “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 greater 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)?