Prostate Cancer Prevention…what’s all the press about?
By Nicholas Toepfer, M.D., Colorado Springs Health Partners, PC, Colorado Springs LIVING WELL Magazine
There has been some recent media hubbub about whether or not men should have a prostate cancer screening. The basis for the current conversation is two major studies that indicated the effectiveness of the screening in comparison with potential side effects. As a result of this research, many physician organizations, including the American Urological Association (AUA), have revised their guidelines regarding the screening. The AUA recommendation statement suggests:
“…Men ages 55 to 69 discuss the benefits and harms of prostate cancer screening with their doctors before deciding whether to be screened. It recommends against screening for men younger than 55 who are at average risk, as well as for men 70 and older.
The prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test is one of the most common screenings for prostate cancer. The blood test itself does not carry major risks; however, recommended follow up to the test can increase the potential for more serious side effects. There are certain risk factors that indicate a need for earlier or more frequent PSA testing, including:
• Family history of prostate cancer (father, brother or other relative have prostate cancer)
• African-American ethnicity
• High BMI (a measure of your body fat, a score over 30 is considered high for most people)
• Previous health history
Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer affecting men in the United States, skin cancer is the first. According to the American Cancer Society, more than 241,700 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer each year and it is projected to claim over 28,000 lives, or 9% of those affected. African-American men are two times more likely than white men to die of prostate cancer.
The PSA test can sometimes be what is called false positive or indicate signs of cancer when there are none. Although prostate cancer is a slow growing cancer and often has no visible symptoms, this test can come up positive under conditions such as:
- An enlarged prostate
- Older age
- Riding a bicycle
- Certain urologic procedures
- Certain medicines
Some things can help PSA levels to go down whether cancer is present or not. You should always notify your doctor of any medications or supplements you may be taking so that measured PSA levels can be properly adjusted.
- Certain medicines: Certain drugs used to treat BPH or urinary symptoms, such as finasteride (Proscar or Propecia) or dutasteride (Avodart), may lower PSA levels.
- Herbal mixtures: Some mixtures that are sold as dietary supplements may also mask a high PSA level. Obesity: Obese men tend to have lower PSA levels.
- Aspirin: Some recent research has suggested that men who take aspirin regularly may have lower PSA levels.
Regardless of your health status or risk factors, always discuss your prostate health with your physician. Research generates new findings on an ongoing basis and having the conversation will keep you up to date on the current trends in diagnosis and treatment of this common and very treatable cancer.
Additional resources used in putting this article together include:
For more information please call 475-9800 or visit www.cshp.net.