Although getting a cancer diagnosis is scary, there’s new hope for men with prostate cancer. In fact, many can avoid invasive procedures and treatments and still maintain a great quality of life and long-term health.
According to the American Cancer Society, about one in eight men will develop prostate cancer during his lifetime. Prostate cancer begins when cells in the prostate gland begin to grow out of control. Although some prostate cancers grow and spread quickly, many have a slower growth rate. In fact, a majority of prostate cancers do not negatively affect your health and you may not even know you have it.
Your risk for developing prostate cancer depends on three main factors: age, family history and race – African American men are more likely to develop prostate cancer. Other risk factors—which can be managed or controlled through lifestyle changes—include tobacco use, obesity, poor nutrition, and exposure to chemical products.
Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests can help detect prostate cancer during its earliest stages. But unlike most other cancer screenings, medical experts agree that a PSA is not always necessary. That’s because these tests can miss some cancers and can find others that may develop so slowly that they never need to be treated.
Of course, these guidelines can be confusing for patients. Should I be screened? Shouldn’t I? Is it better to be safe than sorry or am I causing myself unnecessary panic? The American Cancer Society recommends talking with your health care provider to decide if PSA testing is right for you. There are many factors to take into account including age and family history.
Today, more men are opting for active surveillance or “watchful waiting.” Although the options may seem similar, they mean slightly different things:
- Watchful waiting – This typically involves fewer screenings and tests and relying more on your symptoms to determine if action is needed.
- Active surveillance – This usually involves close monitoring of your cancer through screening and tests to see if any changes occur in your cancer. If your test results change, you and your doctor will need to discuss treatment options.
Although not recommended for faster-growing prostate cancers, these approaches can be an option for cancers that are small, confined to the prostate area and are slow-growing without symptoms. Regular appointments with your doctor to manage the cancer’s progress may help you avoid surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy and still live a full life.
At Main Line Health, we understand there’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to prostate cancer. Our comprehensive approach includes diagnostic and treatment options that are both compassionate and personalized. To schedule an appointment with one of our specialists, call 866-225-5654 or use our secure online appointment request form.