September is officially Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, so now is the time to attract attention to this prominent disease and get screened yourself.
Everyone knows when Breast Cancer Awareness Month is – October. But many people don’t know the parallels of breast cancer and prostate cancer, and fail to take it as seriously.
Raising awareness and getting tested can save lives. If caught early, prostate cancer is 90-95% curable. How do we catch it? We use the PSA blood test as the gateway to information about a man’s risk for this disease.
The American Cancer Society recommends that the discussions about prostate cancer testing should take place at the following ages:
Age 50: For men who are at average risk of prostate cancer
Age 45: For men at a high risk of developing prostate cancer (men who have a first-degree relative (father, brother, or son) diagnosed with prostate cancer at an early age (younger than age 65)
Age 40: For men at an even greater risk for developing prostate cancer (those with more than one first-degree relative who had prostate cancer at an early age)
If no prostate cancer is found during your PSA test, you may choose to time your future screenings depending on your results:
- Men who choose to be tested who have a PSA of less than 2.5 ng/ml, may only need to be retested every 2 years.
- Yearly screenings should be done for men whose PSA level is 2.5 ng/ml or higher.
What is a PSA Test?
The PSA is a simple blood sample with a normal range of 0-4 nanograms per milliliter. Urologists then analyze the velocity of a PSA.
Generally speaking, there is no specific normal or abnormal PSA level. The PSA is not a perfect diagnostic test, because of this; we rely on other factors such as age, family history, medical history, and background to help get a clearer picture of what is “normal” for each patient. The amount of PSA present in the blood tends to increase with increasing age, so what is normal for a 70-year-old, may not be normal for someone who is 40.
Getting tested regularly can be used to catch prostate cancer early. A rapid increase in PSA or PSA doubling time can be a sign of a rapidly growing cancer.
Prostate Cancer Increasing in Younger Men
Since there are little to no symptoms in the early stages, prostate cancer continues to be very prevalent among younger men and has come to be known as the silent killer. If it occurs in men age 50 or younger, it's likely because the tumor is growing rapidly, making for a much more aggressive cancer.
In the last 20 years, prostate cancer has increased six-fold in younger men. This is why men should get a baseline PSA screening blood test the moment they turn 40. This allows urologists to have a starting point where they can measure the velocity of the prostate specific antigen levels over time.
Family History is a Huge Factor
Even as new research emerges, family history is still the highest risk factor for prostate cancer. It is important for men to know where they stand. If your father or brother has prostate cancer, particularly if you also meet other risk criteria, make an appointment with a prostate cancer specialist. For high-risk men, that relationship should start long before diagnosis.
Supplying yourself with information about your family history and individual risk factors like obesity, can transform you to being more proactive about your health and prevention.
This year Philadelphia Urology Associates wanted to reach out in support prostate cancer awareness beyond the walls of our office by sponsoring the 2015 Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride (DGR) in Philadelphia, PA.
Philadelphia Urology Associates is happy to support this astonishing community effort to bring awareness to a cancer that hits so close to home for some of our patients and their families. View our blog post about this great cause.
If you would like to make a donation to support prostate cancer research, you can make one through the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride website here.
The doctors at Philadelphia Urology Associates treat a variety of prostate issues, using the newest, leading-edge therapies and techniques. You can find more information about prostate cancer in our informational blog articles on the subject.
Contact us online or call (215) 563-1199 to schedule an appointment.