Health News Articles

Prostate Cancer: Know Your Risk

Sep 16, 2013

An estimated one in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer over the course of his lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society. Fortunately, if caught early the disease is highly treatable.

“Since there are no unique symptoms or signs of prostate cancer, it’s very important to follow the recommendations of your primary care physician or urologist to screen for the disease,” says Alexei Wedmid, MD, a urologist on staff at University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro (UMCPP). “A prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test and a digital rectal exam (DRE) will not definitively confirm or rule out prostate cancer, and things like an infection, inflammation or a benign prostate growth called BPH may affect PSA results, but screening is still highly recommended as a first line of defense.”

The American Urologic Association’s (AUA) newest guidelines suggest yearly screenings for men between the ages of 55 and 69, unless other factors suggest a high risk of developing the disease, in which case testing may begin as early as age 40. African-American men tend to be at a higher risk, as one in three will be diagnosed in his lifetime. Having a high body mass index (BMI) or a family history of prostate cancer are also high risk factors. AUA recommends discussing with your physician whether testing is right for you.

If an annual screening detects an abnormality, a prostate biopsy is used to determine if cancer is present. If cancer is discovered, advanced testing can now analyze genetic changes to help determine how aggressive a patient’s prostate cancer is and what treatment options will work best.

“What is important to remember is that prostate cancer treatment is a very individualized process. Even if you are diagnosed with prostate cancer through a prostate biopsy, not all prostate cancer needs to be treated. But this can be determined only through close consultation with your doctor,” says Dr. Wedmid, who is fellowship trained in da Vinci robotic surgery for prostate and kidney conditions. “For some patients with low-grade cancer, or even older patients with intermediate cancer, active surveillance may be an option. For others, curative treatments may include surgery or radiation, including image-guided radiation therapies or state-of-the-art robotic surgery using the da Vinci Surgical System. Chemotherapy and hormone therapy, along with radiation or surgery, may be used in advanced cases.”

For assistance finding an urologist on staff with Princeton HealthCare System, call 1.888.PHCS4YOU (1.888.742.7496) or visit www.princetonhcs.org.