Prostate cancer is no joke. Every year, it claims the lives of thousands, reminding us of the importance of early detection. Around age 50, it is recommended that men get tested for prostate cancer. Testing and the early detection of the cancer allow for a wide array of treatment options.
The American Cancer Society lists prostate cancer as the most common cancer in men aside for skin cancer. They estimate around 248,530 new cases occurred in 2021 with 34,130 deaths.
Times have changed
Testing has evolved over the years. As a result, the days of rectal examinations are on the way out, with physicians favoring the prostate-specific antigen test. According to the National Cancer Institute, a PSA refers to a specific protein produced by malignant and normal cells found in the prostate. This test measures the level of the antigen present in a blood sample. An elevated PSA level may indicate prostate cancer.
A medical perspective
With blood testing gaining popularity, there is almost no reason to ignore the importance of screening. Chief Medical Officer Ben Hess, M.D., is a supporter of PSA testing.
“I very rarely have to do prostate exams. It is no longer recommended for asymptomatic patients. Instead I focus on how and why we use the PSA test instead.” -Dr. Hess
He commented on the hesitancy felt by men when the touchy subject is brought up. Dr. Hess reassures them that old-school rectal examinations are no longer universally recommended. The PSA blood test may be better in most cases.
Screening should begin around age 50 unless a family history of the cancer prompts earlier screening. Symptoms of the cancer are:
- Frequent urination
- Weak urination
- Erectile dysfunction
- Painful ejaculation
- Pain in the rectum
- Pain in the lower back
This form of cancer can be treated in many ways, including surgery, radiation and cryotherapy. According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, the chances of dying from prostate cancer are fairly low with a 5-year survival rate of 99%. Most trusted sources point to early detection as the key to beating this cancer.