Prostate cancer is a common form of cancer affecting men.
Early detection plays a crucial role in improving treatment outcomes and survival rates.
In this blog, we will delve into the importance of early detection.
In the segment “Un Minuto de Salud a la Hora del Café”, we were joined by Javier Mora, a radiology specialist in Boston, Massachusetts and Resident at Massachusetts General Hospital – Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
We invite you to watch the clip of the interview where Dr. Mora, radiologist specialized in the design of therapies for cancer patients.
Mora will talk about risk factors and provide valuable information to empower men to take charge of their health and seek timely medical intervention.
What is the Radiation Oncology Program to Which you Belong?
JM: It’s a branch of medicine in which I work, primarily with cancer patients, and I design the radiation treatments for the patients.
At What Age Should Men Start Asking Themselves This Question and Get Screened?
JM: Yes. It is something that affects men and the age one should start detecting it is 40 years old.
There is a range of ages depending on familial risk.
So, if you have family members like your dad or a brother it is more important to screen and visit the doctor even at 40.
Additionally if you have African heritage, you should also go around age 40.
If you have an average risk, or if you have no family risk or African heritage we can start that conversation with your doctor at 45 to 50 years old.
Early Detection Can Save a Person’s Life, Can’t It, Doctor?
Prostate cancer is the number one cancer in the United States affecting men and is a cause of death.
It can also cause additional problems such as pain or trouble urinating.
As health professionals, we don’t want it to progress to that point because if we are aware of it and catch it early, there is a cure.
Culturally, Do We Have Certain Differences in Going or Having to Go to a Doctor?
JM: Yes there is that cultural aspect, maybe there is fear in determining or finding out what is going on.
And sometimes, as I said, there comes an advanced point where there are fewer options to find a cure and we can no longer do certain treatments.
But we also know that it’s difficult to navigate this healthcare system and sometimes there are other social complications, like access to health insurance, uncertainty about legal status.
So, my biggest hope is that there should be no fear to take care of our health.
We are here to help them, to overcome these impediments and for people to be able to access health services.
Especially when it comes to prostate cancer, because there are many options and this is a very curable type of cancer, and there are many options if it is detected early.
What Are the Symptoms of Prostate Cancer?
JM: I want to emphasize that sometimes prostate cancer has no symptoms and it is detected with a rectal exam and with a blood test called the Prostate Specific Antigen or PSA.
But sometimes, there are symptoms and they are usually urinary symptoms.
So, if you have a hard time urinating, or you have a sensation like your bladder is not emptying completely it can be a warning sign.
Or if you notice blood in your urine or blood in your semen, it is important to have a specialist check for causes.
Understanding Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer occurs when abnormal cells develop in the prostate gland, a small, walnut-sized organ located below the bladder and in front of the rectum.
Although the exact cause is unknown, age, family history, and ethnicity may increase the risk of developing prostate cancer.
Symptoms may not be evident in the early stages, which emphasizes the importance of regular screening.
The Importance of Early Detection
Early detection significantly increases the chances of successful treatment and a positive prognosis for prostate cancer patients.
In its early stages it allows for more treatment options, including less invasive procedures, and increases the likelihood of a complete cure.
Regular screening provides the opportunity to identify abnormalities and initiate necessary interventions early.
Prostate Cancer: Screening Methods
Two primary screening methods are used to detect prostate cancer: the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test and the digital rectal examination (DRE).
- The PSA test measures the level of a protein produced by the prostate, which may be elevated in the presence of cancer cells.
- DRE involves a physical examination of the prostate gland by a healthcare professional looking for abnormalities or irregularities.
While these detection methods are valuable tools, they have limitations.
PSA levels can be influenced by several factors, leading to false positives or false negatives.
DRE may not detect cancer in its early stages if the tumor is small or located in a specific area of the prostate.
To overcome these limitations, combining the two tests can provide a more accurate assessment of prostate health.
Risk Factors and Prevention
Understanding the risk factors associated with prostate cancer can help men make informed decisions about their health:
- Age is the most important risk factor, as the likelihood of developing prostate cancer increases after age 50.
- Family history, especially if a close relative has had the disease, and certain ethnic backgrounds, such as African-American men, are also considered at risk.
- Adopting a healthy lifestyle can potentially reduce risk: regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight and eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains contribute to overall wellness.
- Avoiding tobacco products and excessive alcohol consumption can have positive effects on prostate health.
Local Resources Available for Information, Support and Screening Services:
Massachusetts Prostate Cancer Coalition (MPCC):
Non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness about prostate cancer and providing resources for prevention, screening and treatment.
They offer educational materials, support groups, and information on screening options available in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH):
Provides comprehensive information on screening and prevention programs, offer resources, guidelines and initiatives related to prostate cancer prevention and early detection.
They can also provide information on local clinics and health care facilities that offer screening services.
Local Clinics and Health Centers:
Several health centers and clinics throughout Massachusetts provide prostate cancer screening services. These include community health centers, hospitals, and private clinics.
- Dana-Farber Cancer Institute: https://www.dana-farber.org/
- Massachusetts General Hospital: https://www.massgeneral.org/
- Brigham and Women’s Hospital: https://www.brighamandwomens.org/
- American Cancer Society (ACS): https://www.cancer.org/, offers valuable resources and information on prostate cancer prevention and early detection. They provide guidelines on screening, risk factors and lifestyle modifications to reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
- Local support groups: Connecting with local support groups can provide a supportive environment for individuals and families affected by prostate cancer. These groups offer emotional support, share experiences and provide valuable information.
Remember to consult with your health care provider for personalized advice and guidance on prostate cancer prevention and screening.
They can provide specific recommendations based on your individual risk factors, age and medical history.
The information contained on the My Health Fair website should not be construed as professional advice or medical recommendations.
Readers should direct any questions regarding their personal health care to licensed physicians or other appropriate health care professionals.