Screening is the key to detecting prostate cancer

Published Sep 4, 2018 at 4:00pm

During National Prostate Health Month each September, men are reminded to be proactive and get screened for prostate cancer which is the most common non-skin cancer in men. According to Brent E. Carlyle, MD, urologist with Rome Medical Practice Urology, waiting for signs and symptoms to appear is not the best way to detect this highly treatable cancer, 

“Symptoms from prostate cancer unfortunately often mean the disease has progressed significantly,” Carlyle explained. “The goal of routine screening is to detect and treat the cancer before it gets to that point.”

The prostate is a walnut sized gland of the male reproductive system located just below the bladder. Most men diagnosed with prostate cancer have few or no symptoms, according to Dr. Carlyle. That’s why it is important for men over 50, or who have a family history of prostate cancer, to see an urologist or their primary care provider regularly to be screened for the disease. 

“Men between ages of 55 and 69 benefit the most from prostate cancer screening,” Dr. Carlyle continued. “Younger men and older men may also benefit depending on certain risk factors.”

Prostate cancer can often be detected early in men with a simple blood test that measures the amount of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in the blood. A healthcare provider can also check the size of the prostate through a physical exam.  

For many men the initial fear is prostate cancer, but benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is a very common cause of urination symptoms, such as weak urinary stream, frequent urination, and getting up at night to urinate. The three most common conditions affecting the prostate are BPH, which causes enlargement of the prostate; prostatitis, a temporary swelling of the prostate due to infection or inflammation; and prostate cancer. All of these conditions may cause difficulty in urination, so it is important for men who may be experiencing urination problems to see an urologist to determine the cause.

“For men with symptoms of BPH there are medications and minimally invasive office procedures that can make a big difference,” Dr. Carlyle said.

In rare cases, prostate cancer can cause symptoms. Dr Carlyle recommends contacting an urologist or primary care physician for an evaluation if you experience any of the following:

  • A need to urinate frequently, especially at night, some- times urgently
  • Difficulty starting or holding back urination
  • Weak, dribbling, or interrupted flow of urine
  • Painful or burning urination
  • Difficulty in having an erection
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Blood in the urine
  • Pressure or pain in the rectum
  • Pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, pelvis, or thighs

According to Dr. Carlyle, prostate cancer sometimes has a hereditary component. “Men with a father or brother with prostate cancer have a 2-3 times relative risk of having prostate cancer as compared to other men,” he explained. “Additionally, African American men are at higher risk for prostate cancer and Asian American men are at lower risk of developing prostate as compared to Caucasians.”

Finding prostate cancer early, when it is small, also determines what treatment is needed to combat it.

“The diagnosis of prostate cancer does not necessarily mean treatment,” Dr. Carlyle said. “Some men will be advised to pursue radiation or surgery, while others will be advised to proceed with active surveillance. Active surveillance means keeping a close eye on the cancer, but not necessarily intervening to treat it.”

Age of the patient and other factors determine which approach is best.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Carlyle, or any of the urologists at Rome Medical Practice Urology, call 315-356-7390. The office is located in the Griffiss Professional Complex at 267 Hill Road, Suite 300, accessed by turning on Avery Road next to AmeriCU Federal Credit Union.