Men encouraged to discuss prostate cancer risk, screening with physician

Jun 4, 2019

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness for, and generate dialogue about, the need for early screening. Other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men. There are 29 different types of prostate cancers according to the Prostate Cancer Foundation. Urologist Judy Farias, M.D., who practices at Northeast Baptist Hospital, says not all of them are slow to spread.

“Some forms of prostate cancers can be more aggressive than others,” Dr. Farias said. “Men ages 55 to 69 should discuss screening with their doctors. But those with a high-risk factors such as family history or ethnicity (Hispanics and African-American men are at a higher risk), should be screened sooner – as early as age 40.” Dr. Farias also stressed that prostate cancer is usually asymptomatic so dialogue and screening are critical. “The positive is that what may be considered a ‘painful’ discussion can result in a brief and painless screening that can be performed in the office that can potentially save a man’s life,” she said.

Jose de la Cerda, M.D., a urologist with Urology San Antonio who practices at Mission Trail Baptist Hospital, says Hispanic men are at risk for the aggressive form of the disease.

“Because the incidence is high in Hispanics for aggressive prostate cancer that can spread quickly, it is especially important that they be screened so it can be caught early,” de la Cerda said. “Hispanic men are often hesitant to discuss health topics that deal with issues below the belt, so if they can’t talk to a family member, men should go to their primary care doctor or a urologist. The PSA test for prostate cancer is a simple and quick blood test.”

The American Cancer Society (ACS) reports that 1 in 7 American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in his lifetime. With early detection and advanced treatment options, cure rates for prostate cancer are very high when the cancer is diagnosed early. In fact, the ACS indicates that more than 2.9 million men in the United States who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point are still alive today.

Although most cases are diagnosed in men who are 65 years or older, 35 percent (or more than 50,000) each year are diagnosed at an earlier age. According to the ACS, cancer is the leading cause of death among Hispanics, accounting for 22 percent of deaths.

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