With the month of September officially designated as Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, the physicians at New Albany Urology are urging men to stay current on their annual prostate exam and screening.
According to the National Cancer Institute, in 2010, there has already been 32,050 prostate-cancer related deaths. Prostate cancer is a serious disease that affects the lives of men over age 50 every year.
Dr. Ben Bernstein, MD, a board certified urologist at New Albany Urology, came to talk to members of New Albany’s Kiwanis Club Tuesday afternoon about prostate health and ways to prevent prostate cancer.
“On a 25-year old man, the size of the prostate is walnut-shaped. It is a gland of the male reproductive system located in front of the rectum and just below the bladder,” said Bernstein.
The prostate wraps around the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder out through the tip of the penis. The main function of the prostate is to produce fluid for semen, which transports sperm.
According to the National Cancer Institute, an estimated one in six American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime.
One of the tests that is done for checking for prostate cancer is a PSA test, which stands for Prostate Specific Antigen Test.
“The PSA test is the screening done for any abnormality. The way to determine prostate size is to have an ultrasound done of the prostate. As we age, the prostate increases in size, which is related to exposure to testosterone,” said Bernstein.
The symptoms of an enlarged prostate are sometimes silent, there is a weak urinary strain, hesitancy with difficulty starting to strain, nocturia, and straining to void.
The three most common conditions affecting the prostate are benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), prostatitis and prostate cancer.
BPH, a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate, is the most common of prostate conditions among men. In fact, more than 50 percent of men age 60, and 80 percent of men age 80, are estimated to suffer from BPH. The enlargement often squeezes the urethra where it runs through the prostate. Symptoms of BPH include difficulty initiating urination, weak urinary stream, and waking several times at night to urinate. BPH is more common among older men, because as a man ages, his prostate naturally enlarges.
According to the National Cancer Institute, in 2010 there has already been approximately 217,730 diagnosed cases and approximately 32,050 prostate-cancer related deaths.
“Seventy percent of all cancer is found in men over 65, but the survival rate within twenty years has increased from 67-97 percent. Prostate cancer death rate is higher in African American men. And, not all prostate cancers are equal because it is a heterogenous disease,” said Bernstein.
For prostate cancer detection, Bernstein recommends having a PSA done or a DRE performed, which is a Digital Rectal Examination. He also recommends for every man to have a DRE done on a yearly basis over the age of 50.
“Men need to undergo prostate screening at an earlier age if there is a first degree relative that has prostate cancer, like a father, grandfather, or brother,” said Bernstein.
Treatment options are observation, radical prostatectomy, brachytherapy, external beam radiation, and cryotherapy.
According to Bernstein, prostate cancer can be prevented by seeing a doctor at age 50 and over for a PSA or DRE and also pay attention to diet and environmental factors. Some experts believe that certain herbal remedies have worked to prevent prostate cancer like the saw palmetto plant, but Bernstein has found no scientific evidence that it has decreased the risk of developing prostate cancer.
Studies show that prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in America among men and represents 33 percent of all new cancer cases in American men.
For more information on prostate cancer, visit the National Cancer Institute’s website at www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/prostate or contact Bernstein at New Albany Urology at (662) 539-0233.