So how do we justify the Prostate Cancer Awareness Month that just passed? With the recommendations of the USPSTF regarding the use of PSA testing, one may be led to believe that prostate cancer is something that we do not really need to worry about. But was that appropriate?
Prostate cancer remains the second leading cause of death in men and is second only to lung cancer according to statistics published by the American Cancer Society; there are over 200,000 new cases of prostate cancer that are diagnosed yearly. Prostate cancer will be the cause of death in over 32,000 men this year. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer that is diagnosed in men.
Recently the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act has recently included prostate cancer as one of the diseases that should be compensated for among the responders and survivors of the attacks. Prostate cancer was included in the bill due to a recently cited study which identified a 17 percent greater-than-expected rate of prostate cancer in those that were exposed to the tragic events.
Complicating the prostate cancer debate is the fact that prostate cancer tends to be silent in its early stages with most patients not experiencing any side effects.
The American Urological Association has updated their guidelines with regards to the recommendations for patients to undergo PSA testing. On September 23, a new Senate resolution (S251), was introduced by Jeff Sessions (R-AL) which asks the USPSTF to reconsider its 2012 recommendations against PSA testing for prostate cancer. This bill urges the committee to involve urologists and oncologists in re-evaluating their prior recommendations and to identify areas if research in to methods of diagnosing and treating prostate cancer.
The decision to undergo PSA testing is something that you need to discuss with your urologist. Although there are general recommendations that exist, the decision to proceed with this testing is an individual one and can be effected by things such as family history or symptoms that you may experience. Just remember that in some cases a digital rectal examination and a simple blood test may save your life. Being knowledgeable about this topic can help you better understand the need to have the testing done, understand the implications of the test, and understand what treatment options are available.