Oncologist Dr. Priya Rudolph of Georgia Cancer Specialists (GCS)—a Top 10 private cancer practice in the U.S. — recently published an article in The Herald Journal in Greensboro, GA. In the article, Dr. Rudolph discussed prostate cancer awareness and prevention techniques. Below is the full article:
Did you know that September is National Prostate Cancer Awareness month? The prostate is a gland found in males below the bladder and in front of the rectum. Prostate cancer is an abnormal growth of prostate gland and is the most common cancer in males. It is also the second common cause of cancer death in males after lung cancer. While we don’t know the exact cause of prostate cancer, there are certain factors associated with greater risk of prostate cancer. These include age greater than 65, family history of prostate cancer, diets rich in red meat or with high fat content, increased consumption of dairy products, and obesity. Prostate cancer is also more common in African Americans compared to Caucasians and can also present as more advanced disease in African American men.
Most prostate cancers are slow growing. Hence early detection can be life saving. Prostate cancer can be diagnosed by detecting an elevated PSA (prostate specific antigen) in the blood or by feeling an abnormal prostate gland by rectal exam. The American Cancer Society recommends discussing PSA blood testing with your physician for all men greater than age 50. However, these tests are not perfect since men without prostate cancer can have an abnormal PSA or an enlarged prostate. The diagnosis of prostate cancer is confirmed by biopsy of the prostate.
Treatment of prostate cancer depends on the details of the biopsy and the stage at the time of the diagnosis. Staging of prostate cancer is determined by whether or not and to what extent it has spread outside the prostate gland. CT scan and bone scan may be helpful to evaluate spread to other organs such as lymph nodes, bones, lungs, or liver. If the cancer is confined within the prostate gland, it may be treated by surgery or radiation. However, if it has spread outside the prostate gland, it unfortunately is not be curable, but is still very treatable with many effective options. In this case, traditional treatments include combination of hormonal injections, pills, or chemotherapy. In addition, radiation to affected bones or bone strengthening medicines may also be useful. Unlike most other advanced cancers where the survival is less than a year, most men with advanced prostate cancer live for 2-4 years or more with currently available treatments. Prostate cancer is one of the few cancers where we have an FDA-approved vaccine treatment. This treatment, called Provenge, can increase survival in some men with advanced prostate cancer. There is a lot of ongoing research looking at novel therapies for advanced prostate cancer. It is exciting to note that we also have two new hormonal pills called Abiaterone and Enzalutamide that have been FDA-approved within the past 2 years for treatment of advanced prostate cancers in patients not responding to initial treatment and/or chemotherapy.
The key to cure for any cancer is early detection. Many cancers are curable if detected early through routinely available screening tests. If you are above 50 or are younger with a family history of prostate cancer, please see your doctor about screening tests for prostate cancer. Also, it is never too late to start adopting a healthy lifestyle which can prevent prostate and many other cancers. This is easy to do and simply involves eating less meat products, eating at least 3-5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily and staying active with simple exercises such as walking daily for at least half hour. Do your part to keep your body healthy.
Priya Rudolph, MD, PhD