Caught early, prostate cancer is one of the most easily treated cancers. But, because many men experience no symptoms, it is often identified only by an abnormal result on a basic screening. During September - National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month – Men’s Health Network, along with the Senior Center for Health and Security, is urging men to talk to their doctors about prostate cancer screening.
Patients can have a simple blood test called a PSA that will detect a majority of prostate cancers early. While the PSA is not 100 percent accurate, in the two decades since its inception, prostate cancer deaths have declined and the number of successfully treated prostate cancer cases has risen.
Earlier this year, the US Preventative Services Task Force ignited a firestorm of controversy when it published a recommendation that men who are 75 years or older, or men who have a life expectancy of less than 10 years, no longer be routinely screened for prostate cancer. One of the most vocal opponents of the new government task force policy is Doctor Judd Moul, the director of the Prostate Center at Duke University and a Men’s Health Network advisor. “It’s important that men not get the message that they shouldn’t have the test,” says Doctor Moul, who believes that men of all ages should be offered routine screening. “Picking a hard age cutoff at 75 could be construed as age discrimination.”
Men’s Heath Network and the Senior Center for Health and Security are not alone in urging routine prostate cancer screening for all men over age 50, and at age 40 for African Americans and men with a family history of prostate cancer. They are joined by, among others, the American Cancer Society, American Urological Association, and countless physicians treating patients nationwide.
The bottom line? Having an annual prostate exam, including a PSA test, just might save your life. No matter what age you are, that annual PSA test creates a benchmark to judge future tests against. September is National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. It’s the perfect time to call your doctor, schedule an appointment, and get your prostate cancer test done.