NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – News 8 is on call for you. November is Men’s Health Awareness Month. Experts say men worry a lot about prostate cancer.
Over two million men in the United States live with prostate cancer, and about 180,000 are diagnosed yearly.
“A big change happened when we started screening about 20 years, 25 years ago. Most prostate cancers we find today are very small, they’re contained and highly curable,” says Dr. Michael Leapman.
Dr. Leapman specializes in prostate cancer at Yale Cancer Center.
Some common questions from patients:
Is it genetic?
He says, “It’s a good thing to pay attention to your family history. We hear a lot about the BRCA mutations for breast cancer and ovarian cancer in women but men who have a BRCA mutation are at greater risk for developing prostate cancer.”
Is it something I did?
“The answer is no,” says Dr. Leapman, “It’s not something that anyone did. It is completely out of someone’s control. There’s a lot of interest in diet, lifestyle, is it what I ate, is it what I did? I think the jury is still out on that.”
What about symptoms?
He answers, “If the cancer has spread outside the prostate, that’s when men start to begin to get symptoms. So if it spread to the bone which is where it tends to go, people can have bone pain, weight loss, fatigue.”
What’s new in research?
“We’re learning about how to diagnose it earlier and that’s really what I’m interested in. A lot of what we do is to see how can we pick it up earlier and not just find it but figure out which prostate cancers are more aggressive and how we should tailor treatment for those people,” explains Dr. Leapman.
He responds, “There are new approved therapies, hormonal medications which work by reducing testosterone more potently and they can increase survival in men with metastatic prostate cancer.”
Is prostate cancer curable?
Dr. Leapman says, “When the cancer is localized to the prostate, when it’s in the prostate or in the vicinity, we can cure it.
The most effective effective approach says Dr. Leapman is finding it early.
Screening involves a blood test and rectal exam – which can be at times tricky. Dr. Leapman cautions that it could lead to an abnormal test — though not necessarily prostate cancer.
Have a health question? Send it to News8OnCall@wtnh.com.