September 12, 2019

Five things to know about prostate cancer

physicians consulting

For Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, Elisabeth Heath, M.D., F.A.C.P., the Patricia C. and E. Jan Hartmann endowed chair in Prostate Cancer Research at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute and professor of Oncology and Medicine for the Wayne State University School of Medicine, shared information everyone should know about the disease.

The prostate, part of the male reproductive system, is a walnut-sized organ located behind the bladder. Prostate cancer is the growth of cancer cells in the prostate and is the most common non-skin cancer in men.

Elisabeth Heath M.D., FACP
Elisabeth Heath M.D., FACP

Dr. Heath, known for her leadership in prostate cancer research, revealed that the most common questions she receives from patients are about the screenings – what they are and why they are necessary.

“Early-stage prostate cancer doesn’t usually have symptoms, and the symptom that is most common – trouble with urination – can be a symptom of an infection or Benign Prostatic Hyperpasia (BPH), which is a common issue in men over the age of 50,” Dr. Heath explained.

“Men with a family history of prostate cancer, especially a father, son or brother with prostate cancer before the age of 65, should consider themselves to be at a higher risk for developing prostate cancer,” she said, adding screening for prostate cancer may not be right for every patient.

Here are five things to know about prostate cancer:

  1. Only men can develop prostate cancer. Some men are at an increased risk, including:
    • Men age 50 or older
    • African American men age 45 or older
    • Men with family history of prostate cancer
    • Men with a high-fat diet
  2. Early-stage prostate cancer usually does not have symptoms.
    When symptoms are present, the most common is trouble with urination. However, difficulty urinating does not always mean you have prostate cancer.
  3. Screening recommendations differ for everyone.
    Talk with your health care provider about the benefits and risks of prostate cancer screening. Men at an increased risk for prostate cancer should consider screening at age 45. Men with an average risk should consider screening beginning at age 50. Screenings may or may not be right for each patient.
  4. Research continues to develop in prevention and detection.
    There are many new research studies and findings around prevention and detection of prostate cancer. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans are a new tool to better help image prostate cancer. The Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test and the digital rectal exam (DRE) are two tests that also look for signs of prostate issues.
  5. Explore all possible treatment options.
    There are many new treatment options for local, relapsed and metastatic prostate cancer. Consider a second opinion to learn what new treatment options are available. On average, prostate cancer grows slowly, so it is important to consider the patient’s age, health and life expectancy when determining treatment plans. It is important to talk with your health care provider to determine the best plan for you.

Want to learn more? The 9th annual Karmanos Cancer Institute Cancer Symposium on Oct. 12, from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at MotorCity Casino Hotel in Detroit, will feature a prostate cancer group session, along with discussions about other cancer topics. The event is free and open to the public. Registration is required. Register today.