Prostate Cancer: Know the Risks

prostate cancer blue ribbon

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men. Screenings can catch the disease early and are recommended regularly for men ages 50 to 69.

“When detected and treated early, prostate cancer can have a positive outcome,” said Indraneel Banerjee, MD, a urologist at Penn Highlands Urology. “Many cases of prostate cancer are discovered in the early stages which makes them less likely to spread and more responsive to treatment.”

John S. Banerji, MD, a Uro-Oncologist with Penn Highlands Urology added, “There are many different treatments depending on the grade and stage of the cancer such as active surveillance, robotic Da Vinci radical prostatectomy, radiation therapy surgery and hormonal based therapy.”

Who is at Risk?

All men are at risk for prostate cancer.

The most common risk factor is age. Older men are at greater risk of developing this cancer.

African-American men are more likely to develop prostate cancer at a younger age, are more likely to get aggressive prostate cancer and are more than twice as likely to die from this type of cancer than other men

A family history places some men at a higher risk. For example, men who have a first-degree relative such as a father, son or brother that have had prostate cancer are considered a higher risk.

What are the symptoms?

While some men never experience any symptoms of prostate cancer, an elevated PSA blood test might be the only way to find out an abnormality. Others may experience some of the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty starting urination.
  • Weak or interrupted urine flow.
  • Frequent urination.
  • Trouble emptying the bladder completely.
  • Pain or burning during urination.
  • Blood in the urine or semen.
  • Chronic pain in the back, hips or pelvis.
  • Painful ejaculation.

How is Prostate Cancer Detected?

Since prostate cancer does not normally cause symptoms until the cancer has grown large enough to put pressure on the urethra, doctors recommend PSA-based screening. According to the American Urological Association, providers may begin prostate screening and offer baseline tests to men beginning at age 40 to 45 for those at increased risk. For men at normal risk, baseline screenings should begin between the ages of 45 to 50 years. Regular screening should occur every two to four years for men ages 50 to 69.

A blood test called a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test measures the level of PSA in the blood. PSA is a substance made by the prostate. The levels of PSA in the blood can be higher in men who have prostate cancer. The PSA level may also be elevated in other conditions that affect the prostate like non-cancerous enlargement, prostate infection, or even after a prostate exam.

As a rule, the higher the PSA level in the blood, the more likely a prostate problem is present. Some prostate glands make more PSA than others.

PSA levels also can be affected by certain medical procedures, medications, an enlarged prostate and an infection. However, if a PSA test is abnormal and none of these factors are present, the doctor may recommend a biopsy for a complete diagnosis.

“A biopsy is the best way to know if an abnormal test is due to cancer,” explained Dr. Banerjee. “I encourage men who fall into the screening age ranges to have the PSA test,” said Dr. Banerji. “Most prostate cancers found by the screenings are small and usually slow growing. For men who have faster growing prostate cancer, they will benefit from early treatment.”

Penn Highlands Healthcare delivers comprehensive Urology care to the region. Penn Highlands’ Urologists are highly trained to treat disorders of the male reproductive organs and the urinary tract for both males and females, including urinary incontinence, prostatitis, benign prostatic hyperplasia, overactive bladder, erectile dysfunction, prostate cancer, kidney cancer, bladder cancer and testicular cancer.