Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Early Detection Of Prostate Cancer Saves Lives

(NAPSI)-A simple exam could save a man's life. Other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer found in American men. In fact, during a man's lifetime, his chances of being diagnosed with prostate cancer are one in six. For African-American men, the chances are even higher, with one in four men at risk for developing the disease.

"The good news is the disease is treatable with early detection," said Jonathan L. Myles, MD, FCAP, a pathologist from the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. "Survival rates for men with low-grade prostate cancers are encouragingly high if the cancer is detected before it has spread to other parts of the body."

Pathologists, physicians who examine tissues and cells to diagnose prostate cancer and other diseases, state that early prostate cancer often has no symptoms, making screening for the disease even more critical. Prostate cancer is commonly detected through the use of two screening tests-a digital rectal exam (DRE) and a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test. A PSA exam detects the level of PSA, a protein produced by prostate cells, in the blood. Higher PSA levels indicate the possibility of cancer.

Identifying Risk

If the results of the DRE and/or PSA are not within normal range, a pathologist will conduct a biopsy and assign a Gleason grade if cancer is identified. This number is a strong measure of how aggressive the prostate cancer is and can be used to help determine prognosis and treatment options.

Men 50 years of age and in good health should speak with their physician about receiving an annual PSA and DRE. African- American men and men who have a close relative who was diagnosed with the disease should consult with their physician and consider beginning screening at age 45.

Choosing Treatment

Many treatment options are available. If you are older, it might be appropriate to take a "watchful waiting" approach. Surgery, radiation therapy, hormonal therapy and chemotherapy are also used to treat prostate cancer.

"Even if you don't look sick or feel sick, you should speak with your primary care physician about screening for prostate cancer if you're over 50," said Dr. Myles. "Early detection is a major factor in successful treatment."

Free Resources

For more information regarding prostate cancer, screening tests and possible treatment options, visit the College of American Pathologists' patient information Web site, MyBiopsy.org. The site offers information on other common cancers and cancer-related conditions. To register for an e-mail to schedule a prostate cancer screening exam, visit MyHealthTestReminder.org, a free Web site also developed by the College.

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