RIDGEWOOD, N.J. -- A recent article in The New York Times cited two studies from The Journal of the American Medical Association that found that fewer men are being screened for prostate cancer, and fewer early-stage cases are being detected. The number of cases has dropped not because the disease is becoming less common, according to the article, but because there is less effort to find it.
Many men age 50 and older will face the question: should I be screened for prostate cancer? Most cases of prostate cancer occur in men older than 50, and two out of three cases are in men over 65. Prostate cancer accounts for 25 percent of all male cancers and is the second leading cause of death from cancer in men.
Studies indicate African-American men are more likely to die from prostate cancer. Having close relatives with prostate cancer also increases a man's risk of developing this disease.
The good news is that prostate cancer can usually be found in the early stages by having prostate cancer screening. Metastatic disease, which is disease that is not curable, has been reduced by 75 percent at initial presentation. Many urologists recommend that men have an annual rectal exam of the prostate and blood tests.
This PSA test as it is known has come under scrutiny because routine screening may lead to unnecessary treatment for low-grade, non-aggressive prostate cancer. However, active surveillance has become a solution for this situation. Screening for prostate cancer is a decision that should be based on a patient's individual medical condition and healthcare needs. Talking with a healthcare provider is important to help develop a personalized plan for healthcare screenings.
Finding prostate cancer in the early stages offers more effective treatment and options to choose from. If prostate cancer is diagnosed, patients can benefit from an integrated, multidisciplinary approach, which is offered at The Valley Hospital Urologic Oncology Center.
Howard Frey, M.D is the Medical Director at The Valley Hospital Urologic Oncology Center.