November is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. It's another chance to reach more men, and convince them to get screened. There is some confusion about that screening though, but the cancer is very treatable if found early.
The Prostate-Specific Antigen, or PSA, is widely used as part of screening for prostate cancer in men. However, the PSA testing is now being debated.
One side says routine PSA testing is costly, and although it finds tumors, some people found to have cancer may not benefit from treatment. Many men develop prostate cancer as they age, but they die from other illnesses before the cancer causes problems. Those who argue against PSA testing say doctors may over diagnose; therefore, over treat the cancer.
Advocates of routine PSA screening say prostate cancer is common, and survival depends on early detection. Testing has improved prostate cancer death rates, and treatment also has improved. Issues such as incontinence and sexual dysfunction aren't as problematic.
I like the American Urological Association's guidelines, which were updated this year. The group recommends that PSA testing should begin in men at age 40 instead of 50, and doctors also should use a physical exam of the prostate, changes in PSA readings over time, and when necessary-other specialized blood studies.
For the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center, I'm Dr. Tedd Mitchell, and this is the President's Prescription.
Copyright 2011 KCBD. All rights reserved