A. For early stage prostate cancer, there are often no symptoms. That’s why it is vital to schedule your annual prostate exam to identify any problems early, when there are more treatment options and a higher chance of cure. Some of the symptoms in more advanced stages include blood in your urine, pain or a burning sensation during urination, lower back or belly pain, or an irregular urination pattern.
Q. What types of treatment are available for prostate cancer?
A. There are five different treatments used:
1. Surgical removal of the prostate. At Northern Westchester Hospital, this surgery is routinely performed using the advanced da Vinci® Surgical System, which results in a faster recovery with less post-op pain and a reduced chance of incontinence and erectile dysfunction.
2. Radioactive seed implantation. Radioactive material is placed directly into the prostate to eliminate the tumor while minimizing radiation effects to nearby tissues and organs.
3. External radiation. This approach treats the prostate and, if necessary, surrounding tissue.
4. Hormone therapy. Used for the most advanced cases.
5. Surveillance. Some early, non-aggressive prostate cancer is simply observed.
Q. How can I reduce my risk for prostate cancer?
A. Maintaining a healthy weight and eating a low-fat diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables may prevent prostate cell damage. The jury is still out as to whether dietary calcium intake, green tea, lycopene, pomegranate, or beta-sitosterol can lower one’s risk of prostate cancer despite commercial claims that may suggest otherwise. The best way: see your doctor annually for a simple PSA blood test.
Q. What is a PSA test?
A. The prostate specific antigen (PSA) is a unique protein made only by the prostate. A PSA test is used to examine PSA levels in the blood. Normal levels will vary depending on your age. High levels may indicate prostate cancer; however, similar results can also indicate an infection or inflammation or even enlargement of the prostate. For a more accurate diagnosis, a digital rectal exam should accompany the PSA test. The American Cancer Society recommends men start getting their annual prostate screenings at the age of 50, if there is no family history of the disease.