What Is The ProstATE?
The prostate is a walnut-sized gland that is important to the male reproductive system, located in front of the rectum and between the bladder and the penis. The prostate produces seminal fluid (semen), which protects and carries sperm through the urethra. The urethra, which carries both urine and sperm, runs through the center of the prostate and out through the penis.
What Is Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer, one of the most common cancers in men, originates in the prostate. Like all cancers, it can metastasize (spread to other parts of the body). Prostate cancer is typically asymptomatic, meaning it has no symptoms. So, most men are totally unaware when they have it because they feel healthy. Prostate cancer is highly curable when identified at an early stage. Even at an advanced stage, it is very treatable.
How Do You Test For It?
The PSA blood test is the starting place. PSA is a protein produced by the prostate, called prostate specific antigen, which is released into the bloodstream. The blood levels of PSA increase when the prostate is inflamed, enlarged, irritated, or has cancerous cells. An elevated PSA doesn’t necessarily mean that prostate cancer is present. However, it is an indicator, like the ‘check engine’ light on the dashboard of your car. Men should start having their PSA tested at age 45. African American men or men with a family history of prostate cancer should begin testing earlier, at age 40.
If you have an elevated PSA, consider getting a 3T Multiparametric MRI rather than an immediate random needle biopsy. Getting a well-performed, multiparametric prostate MRI can guide the doctors to any suspicious areas, if any are present. If no suspicious areas are seen, you may be able to avoid a biopsy altogether.
What If The MRI Shows A Suspicious Area?
Recent research indicates that targeted biopsy is more accurate than the older method that relies on a random 12 core-needle biopsy. The doctor who performs a targeted biopsy will use imaging to create a map of your prostate and only take biopsies from suspicious areas. This approach reduces the number of needle biopsies required and reduces the risk of infection, bleeding, and erectile dysfunction.
What If The Biopsy Shows Cancer?
Don’t feel rushed to start treatment. Prostate cancer is the slowest growing types of cancer. The 15-year survival rate for men with localized prostate cancer is 94%! Take time to make the best treatment choice for you. Working with your physicians, there is plenty of time to make educated decisions.
You can research all your options by speaking with your doctors and reaching out to speak with PCRI’s Helpline at (800)-641-7274. PCRI’s Helpline can walk you through your treatment options so you can have informed discussions with your medical team.