June is Men’s Health Month. Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in men. Symptoms include urinary issues but if caught early, doctors say it’s treatable.
Urologist Dr. Stan Honig is the Director of the Male Reproductive Health program at Yale Cancer Center. He answers the most common questions men ask about prostate cancer.
Should I be screened for prostate cancer?
Dr. Honig says, yes. “The American Urological Association recommends prostate cancer screening between the ages of 55 and 70.”
He adds, “The problem with not screening is that if you don’t screen at all, you may end up with more significant spread of disease where we may be able to catch it at a treatable form.”
Screening starts at the age of 40 for men with a family history, meaning a father or brother and African-American men are both high risk groups.
Why should men be screened?
“We now know that some cancers are clinically insignificant, meaning they don’t necessarily need treatment. There is a group of patients that will need treatment because it will be aggressive and it will kill a certain percentage of men.”
How do doctors determine I need treatment?
“We use something called Gleason grade, that’s a way to look at the tissue and the grade of that disease will generally impact whether you need significant treatment or not.”
What should I expect if I am diagnosed?
“If you have a low Gleason grade score, most patients need to be watched. You’d see your urologist once or twice a year. Have a digital exam, have a PSA test and usually it requires a regular biopsy, maybe every one of two years.”
What happens if I have a more aggressive form?
“People who have more aggressive forms of prostate cancer, may require some kind of treatment that may include surgery. Most of that surgery is done with a robotic approach now or require radiation therapy.”
The impact of surgery?
“The prostate sits in a difficult place. It sits between the bladder and the urine tube. So when you take that out, a small percentage of men will have some problems with leaking of urine. Some men will have problems that relate to intimacy, but we have great treatments available for that as well.”
Dr. Honig stresses the importance of screening, which entails a blood test and a physical exam. To lower a man’s risk of prostate cancer, The American Cancer Society recommends a diet with fruits and veggies, staying active and maintaining a healthy weight.
This Father’s Day weekend, Dr. Honig and teams from Yale Cancer Center and Smilow Cancer Hospital are visiting more than 25 barbershops and salons in the greater New Haven area on Saturday, providing services such as blood pressure & cholesterol checks.
Have a health question?
Send it to News8OnCall@WTNH.com
Free download: Access Connecticut breaking news, weather, stream newscasts live and more on-the-go with News 8 alerts directly to your phone.