Monday, September 22, 2014

Ask The Experts: Prostate Cancer Awareness

We continue our focus this month on prostate cancer. To learn more, we had Dr. David Levi answer questions on the topic. Continue to check back for more information on prostate cancer and exams available at Atlantic Medical Imaging. 

 What is prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer occurs in a man’s prostate, which is a small gland located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum.  Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men, after skin cancer) More than 2 million men in the US count themselves as prostate cancer survivors.
Prostate cancer typically grows slowly, however in some cases it can be aggressive and spread quickly. When detected early, and still limited to the prostate gland, patients have a better chance of a successful treatment.
How is prostate cancer diagnosed? 
Most prostate cancers are first found with a blood test, known as a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test. PSA, is a protein produced by cells of the prostate gland. This test measures the level of PSA in the blood. The blood level of PSA is often elevated in men with prostate cancer. Usually, a PSA test will be performed along with a digital rectal exam (DRE) to help establish the nature of the problem.  A DRE is performed to check for growths, or enlargement of the prostate gland.
Whether cancer is suspected based on screening tests or symptoms, the actual diagnosis can only be made with a prostate biopsy.  The biopsy will remove small samples of tissue to be examined under a microscope for cancer cells.
What are some risk factors for prostate cancer? 
Older age, African American race, and a family history of the disease can all increase the chances of a man developing prostate cancer.  As men increase in age, their risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer increases. About 60% of all prostate cancers are diagnosed in men over the age of 65 and 97% occur in men 50 years of age and older.
Are there any symptoms? 
If the cancer is caught in its earliest stages, most men will not experience any symptoms. Some men, however, will experience symptoms such as frequent, hesitant, or burning urination, difficulty in having an erection, or pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips or upper thighs.

Because these symptoms can also indicate the presence of other diseases or disorders, it is recommended that those who do experience any of these symptoms undergo thorough exams  to determine the underlying cause of the symptoms.

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