Study Offers Greater Insight to the Benefits of Prostate Screening

In 2009, prostate cancer screening trials conducted in Europe found screening reduced deaths from prostate cancer by 21 percent, although the screening did lead to some unnecessary interventions. A second trial conducted in the United States in 2009 found fewer differences in the death rates between men who were randomly assigned to screening and those who were not. (Both reports were published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2009).

A more recent study, published earlier this year in the Annals of Internal Medicine, involved a broad consortium of scientists (including some of the investigators in the 2009 studies) reanalyzing the data from the two trials using three different mathematical models. When they made a rigorous comparison between death rates among men who had actually undergone screening and men who had received no screening, the researchers concluded that screening tests reduced prostate cancer deaths by 25 to 32 percent. The reduction was primarily a result of the earlier detection of cancer, the researchers said.

“The newest study offers a statistically significant finding – that certainly supports screening,” says Dr. Chris Schaefer, a urologist with UCA Bucks County.

While prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers affecting men and it can be aggressive, many men have a slow-growing form of the disease. The new analysis doesn’t completely resolve the dilemmas surrounding choices about prostate cancer screening, but it does offer greater insight to the benefits of screening.

“Men who have a family history of prostate cancer or any symptoms of the disease should be screened, as should older African-American men, who are at higher risk for prostate cancer,” adds Dr. Schaefer.

According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, a non-smoking man is more likely to develop prostate cancer than he is to develop colon, bladder, melanoma, lymphoma and kidney cancers combined. It is the most common non-skin cancer in America, affecting one in six men. The good news is that treatments are available and the 5-year survival rate for men whose prostate cancer is detected early is nearly 100%.

The Importance of Prostate Cancer Screening

It is estimated that there are more than two million men in the U.S. currently living with prostate cancer. Most men with an early stage of this disease will not experience any symptoms, which is why regular screening is so important. Having a routine prostate cancer screening can detect cancer at its earliest stages.

“In some cases of prostate cancer, men will experience symptoms such as frequent, hesitant or burning urination, difficulty with erection or pain in the lower back, hips or thighs,” says Dr. Dr. Steven Richards a urologist with UCA Jamesburg. “Since other conditions can have similar symptoms, men experiencing any of these warning signs should undergo thorough testing to determine the cause,” Dr. Richards adds.

The recommendation from the American Urological Association is that men should start prostate cancer screening at age 40. “Many men don’t realize that prostate cancer is very common and continues to be the second leading cause of cancer death in men,” says Dr. David Koota a urologist with UCA East Brunswick. “If a patient is diagnosed with prostate cancer, we are able to offer them the full spectrum of treatment options – at any one of our convenient UCA locations,” adds Dr. Koota. “Our program is comprehensive and we treat patients from diagnosis, through their cancer treatment and provide their follow-up care. Our patients say this is very comforting for both them and their families.”

Know the Risk Factors

There are specific factors that put men at higher risk for prostate cancer including:

  • Age – Age is the strongest risk factor for prostate cancer. The chance of having prostate cancer increases significantly after age 50.
  • Family History– The risk for developing this disease increases if a man has a father or brother with prostate cancer. The risk is highest for men with several affected relatives.
  • Race– Prostate cancer occurs more often in African American men than other racial groups. African American men are also more likely to be diagnosed at an advanced stage of the cancer.

It is important for men to know the risk factors of prostate cancer and begin earlier testing if they are at higher risk. To learn more about prostate cancer please click the link below: