Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers among American men today,
second only to skin cancer. This is according to the American Cancer Society
(ACS), which estimates that more than 220,000 men in this country will
be newly diagnosed with prostate cancer during 2015. Overall, about one
man in seven in the U.S. will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at sometime
during his life.
ACS reports that “prostate cancer can be a serious disease, but most
men diagnosed with prostate cancer do not die from it.” There are
more than 2.9 million American men who have been diagnosed with the disease
and are still alive today. One of the most important keys to successful
treatment is getting a diagnosis during the early stages of the disease.
“This can be a problem because most men don’t notice any signs
or symptoms of prostate cancer until it is more advanced,” said
local urologist Mark Saleh, MD, who is affiliated with Washington Township
Medical Foundation and a member of the medical staff at Washington Hospital.
“That’s why it is so important for men to be screened for
the disease on a regular basis, especially as they get older.”
“When prostate cancer is identified early, it gives us more treatment
options and increases the chances that treatment will be effective,”
The public is invited to a free Health & Wellness seminar led by Dr.
Saleh called, “Prostate Cancer: What You Need to Know.” The
forum will be on Tuesday, November 3, from 1 to 3 p.m. in the Conrad E.
Anderson, MD, Auditorium of the Washington West Building next to Washington
Hospital in Fremont. For more information or to reserve your space at
the seminar, go online to whhs.com and click on “Events.”
Then, select “November 3” on the calendar. Or, call (800) 963-7070.
The American Urological Association (AUA), which includes more than 22,000
members around the world, issues guidelines about screening for prostate
cancer. The intent of these guidelines is to lower the rate at which men
are dying from the disease. The ACS estimates that about 27,540 men will
die from prostate cancer in 2015.
The PSA (prostate-specific antigen) is a blood test that can be done to
screen for prostate cancer. Measuring the PSA level may increase the chances
of finding prostate cancer at an earlier stage.
Several years ago, the AUA changed its policy on PSA testing. It now recommends
screening every year or every other year for men between the ages of 55 and 70.
“The greatest benefit of screening appears to be in men ages 55 to
69 years,” reports the AUA on its website.
“My personal recommendation is that men have a PSA test at age 50
to get a baseline,” stated Dr. Saleh. “If the test is normal,
then wait until age 55 to start routine testing.”
Men in the recommended age group should be tested every other year, unless
they are at higher risk for prostate cancer. Those at higher risk should
be tested every year.
Factors that contribute to a higher risk for prostate cancer include:
- A family history of prostate cancer in multiple generations
- A family history of early-onset prostate cancer before age 55
- Being African American
“In looking to the PSA as a screening tool for prostate cancer, we
should also remember that the test is not perfect,” commented Dr.
Saleh. “For example, the test result can be elevated for other reasons,
such as irritation or enlargement of the prostate. There is also the possibility
that the test will produce a false positive. This can lead to stress for
the man and the possibility of unnecessary biopsies to confirm the presence
Prostate cancer is generally considered a slow-growing disease. Many experts
recommend that testing stop at age 70. As men grow older, into their 80s,
if prostate cancer is found, most doctors will recommend that no treatment
be done. It is usually expected that the man will eventually die of some
However, if a man is exceptionally healthy at 70, he may benefit from continuing
to be screened because his life expectancy tends to be longer.
Dr. Saleh concluded: “The general wisdom is, if life expectancy is
10 years or less, you shouldn’t worry about screening for prostate
cancer. The decision about when and how to screen and what to do if the
test shows cancer, should be between a man and his doctor.”
At the November 3 seminar, Dr. Saleh will also discuss other important
aspects of prostate cancer, including:
- How to reduce your risk
- Warning signs and symptoms
- The latest treatments and technology
For more about prostate health and prostate cancer, go to nlim.nih.gov/medlineplus,
the U.S. National Library of Medicine. To learn about Washington Township
Medical Foundation, go to mywtmf.com. For more information about Washington
Hospital and its Health & Wellness programs, visit whhs.com, click
on “About” and select “Community Connection.”