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Prostate Cancer: What You Need to Know
According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, a non-smoking man is more likely to develop prostate cancer than he is to develop colon, bladder, melanoma, lymphoma and kidney cancers combined. It is the most common non-skin cancer in America, affecting one in six men.
The Importance of Screening
In some cases of prostate cancer, men will experience symptoms such as frequent, hesitant or burning urination, difficulty with erection or pain in the lower back, hips or thighs. Since other conditions can have similar symptoms, men experiencing any of these warning signs should undergo thorough testing to determine the cause.
"The 2009 recommendation from the American Urological Association is that all men with a life expectancy of more than 10 years should start prostate cancer screening at age 40," says Jeffrey Lamont, MD, Chief of Urology at Newton-Wellesley Hospital. "Many men don’t realize that prostate cancer is very common and continues to be the second leading cause of cancer death in men."
Our Cancer Program
"If a patient is diagnosed with prostate cancer, we are able to offer them the full spectrum of treatment options here in one convenient location," says Dr. Lamont. "Our program is comprehensive and we treat patients from diagnosis, through their cancer treatment and provide their follow-up care. Our patients say this is very comforting for both them and their families."
Age – Age is the strongest risk factor for prostate cancer. The chance of having prostate cancer increases significantly after age 50.
"It is important for men to know the risk factors of prostate cancer and begin earlier testing if they are at higher risk," says Dr. Lamont. "I recommend that men have both a PSA blood test and a digital rectal exam to screen for prostate cancer."
The prostate produces a protein called PSA that leaks into the bloodstream in small amounts. If a man has prostate cancer, the PSA levels often rise in the bloodstream and can be measured with a simple blood test. However, other prostate conditions can also cause high levels of PSA so physicians recommend undergoing a digital rectal exam in addition to the blood test. During this exam, the physician is able to examine the prostate for any irregularities in size, shape and texture.
"It important for all men over 40 to begin talking about prostate cancer screening with their physicians," says Dr. Lamont. "Together they will discuss symptoms, family history and lifestyle choices and create a plan for screening."
"There is no one set plan to treat this disease," says Dr. Lamont. "It is important for each individual to learn about the various treatments and, with the help of his physician, make a decision that is best for him. Newton-Wellesley Hospital has comprehensive resources to care for patients with prostate cancer. Our specialists will provide a complete assessment and discuss the treatment options and expected outcomes."
Since the type and severity of prostate cancer varies among patients, it is important for the treatment of this disease to be tailored to meet the needs of each individual. These methods include:
Surveillance – Since prostate cancer often grows slowly, in certain instances a physician may recommend surveillance. Surveillance is an active treatment, which involves closely monitoring the cancer but without immediate intervention such as surgery or radiation therapy. This approach may be appropriate if the cancer is not causing any symptoms and is expected to grow slowly. It is also common in men who are older or have other serious health conditions.
"As technology continues to develop, we are able to diagnose and treat prostate cancer at earlier stages. These developments have allowed us to consider more minimally invasive and targeted therapies like focal cryosurgery to treat this disease," says Dr. Lamont. "This type of treatment has many potential advantages for patients because they can avoid the side effects of a more invasive surgery or radiation. It can also be a potential adjunct to those patients who elect surveillance."
Cryosurgery is being studied as a method for treating only the areas of the prostate where cancer is found and not the entire gland. This concept of "focal therapy" is actively under investigation and hopefully may lead to successful cancer treatment with less morbidity.
"We continue to look towards the future and are working to develop better ways to understand prostate cancer," says Dr. Lamont. "We are actively pursuing more focused and less invasive methods to treat this disease. We hope that more men will undergo routine screenings so we can help to ensure a long and healthy life."
For more information about physicians or services at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, contact CareFinder at 1-866-NWH-DOCS (694-3627) or visit our website at www.nwh.org.