If you are avoiding prostate screening because you’re afraid of the “prostate exam,” if the phrase prostate cancer immediately overwhelms you with fear, if you are concerned about your spouse/partner who may be at risk for prostate cancer, this article is for you.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, and second deadliest after lung cancer.1
September is prostate cancer awareness month, and Phoenix Men’s Health Center is here to provide quality care regarding prostate cancer screening and treatment. For a limited time, we are offering a special for new and current patients for prostate cancer screening at a 76% discount! New patients can get a new patient visit, PSA testing, blood draw, and follow up visit for $100 ($413 value) and existing patients for $54 ($224 value) until September 28th (prostate cancer screening only).
First and foremost, we have a radically different approach to prostate cancer than most traditional medicine practices. Our first purpose is to put our patients and their interests first. A typical prostate cancer screening at a traditional general practitioner will involve a digital rectal exam, which is the portion that many men fear. If he/she detects a problem, the next visit will be to the urologist, who will check your prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels and proceed to take a biopsy if the levels are elevated. If the biopsy confirms the presence of prostate cancer, fear sets in. Urologists encourage prostate removal (prostatectomy) at this point, assuring patients that everything will be the same. Or they will recommend radiation or chemotherapy, which are both invasive and extremely hard on the body.
There are significant side effects of having your prostate removed, which may not have been discussed in lengthy detail with the patient before the removal.
Prostatectomy can result in incontinence (loss of bladder control), erectile dysfunction, and often times a smaller penis size.2
So, how do we detect problems with the prostate early on and avoid haste decisions of prostate removal that may result in substantial problems afterwards? The first aspect of prostate screening is establishing a baseline PSA level. We encourage patients even as young as 35 to get a baseline blood test of PSA levels, and monitor every year afterwards for increase in PSA levels. Normal values of PSA level is between 0 and 4. If PSA values are above 4, this doesn’t mean that you have prostate cancer. It means that there may be one of the three problems with your prostate: 1) prostate cancer, 2) benign prostate hyperplasia, and 3) prostatitis. A critical aspect of prostate cancer screening is understanding PSA velocity.3 PSA velocity is the change of your PSA levels over a year of time. If your PSA level changes more than 0.75 in a year, we may need to further investigate.4
If a baseline level and PSA velocity is monitored over time with an experienced and knowledgeable physician, prostate cancer detection can be done early, safely, and non-invasively.
If your PSA levels are elevated, then your physician will test for the percentage of free PSA. If the percentage of free PSA is concerning, then we will do a digital rectal exam to feel for lumps and bumps. Other tests for biomarkers, such as PSA density, Prostate Cancer Antigen3, or 4 Kallikrein protein score test are also available, as well as an ultrasound or an MRI (We recommend getting a multi-parameter MRI at Desert Medical Imaging Center—we will be happy to give a referral). These are all less invasive methods of screening for prostate cancer that does not involve a prostate biopsy. Not everyone who wants screening will need to do a digital rectal exam. If you do have cancer, there are also holistic, alternative ways to treat prostate cancer.
We do not neglect traditional medicine but rather incorporate aspects of both traditional and alternative medicine for the best treatment for the patient.
A couple of factors can increase the risk of having prostate cancer, including family history. If a patient’s father, grandfather, or a blood-related male has history, especially diagnosed before the age of 60, it increases the risk of prostate cancer for that patient as well. From a demographics standpoint, African Americans have a higher risk for prostate cancer.1 Being overweight and diabetic also increases the risk of prostate cancer. For diabetics, their constantly elevated sugar levels may feed into cancer as cancer has a strong link with sugar. Not exercising leads to decreased blood flow throughout the body, including the prostate, which then causes the prostate to not be able to efficiently remove waste products and get new nutrients, also increasing cancer risk.
Being proactive and getting screened every year with a physician who has experience and in-depth knowledge is the best way to detect prostate cancer early.
In addition to regular exercise, we recommend decreasing consumption of carbs and sugars and increasing intake of foods high in selenium (brazil nuts, oysters, tuna) and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale, arugula, etc.).5 Phoenix Men’s Health Center has years of experience with screening and treatment. If you already have prostate cancer, please consult our physicians for alternative options of treatment besides prostate removal or radiation to avoid unwanted side effects. For more information, please schedule an appointment at Phoenix Men’s Health center by calling our front office at (602-908-5422) or schedule online through this link.
1. Jemal, A., Siegel, R., Xu, J., Ward, E. Cancer statistics, 2010. CA Cancer Clinic 2010:10 3322/caac.20073
2. Hugosson, J., Stranne, J., and Carlsson, S. Radical retropubic prostatectomy: a review of outcomes and side-effects. 2011. Acta oncologica 50(1): 92-97.
3. Carter, B., and Pearson, J. PSA velocity for the diagnosis of early prostate cancer. A new concept. 1993. The Urologic clinics of North America 20(4): 665-670.
4. Berger, A., Deibl, M., Strasak, A., Bektic, J., et al. Large-scale study of clinical impact of PSA velocity: long-term PSA kinetics as method of differentiating men with from those without prostate cancer. 2007. Urology 69(1): 134-138.
5. Espinosa, G., Solan, M., Katz, A. Thrive—don’t only survive, Dr. Geo’s guide to living your best life before and after prostate cancer: Implement the Science of the CaPLESS Method. 2016. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (Scotts Valley, CA).