This weekend, families across the country will celebrate “dad” with funny cards, gifts and plenty of food, too. And while it’s all fun and games now, it may also be the perfect time to talk about your dad’s health. That’s because a group monitoring prostate cancer has released new guidelines for screening for prostate cancer.
“The new recommendations say doctors should be talking with their male patients and recommend they get screened for prostate cancer if they meet the age requirements, have certain risk factors, and a life expectancy that would support the fact that prostate cancer screening would add years and quality to their lives,” said Dr. Martha Terris, chief of urology at AU Medical Center and Witherington Distinguished Chair in the Medical College of Georgia.
Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in men and the third leading cause of cancer death for men. The older you get, the higher your risk is for developing the disease. The screening involves a physical exam, consisting of a digital rectal exam, and a blood test to learn the level of prostate specific antigen, or PSA.
Terris said the biggest thing she wants families to know is African American men have the highest risk for developing prostate cancer. She said it’s best for them to start screening when they reach age 40. That strategy extends to men with a family history of prostate cancer.
“If your father, your uncle, your brother, your grandfather has had prostate cancer, you should really get screened at age 40,” Terris said. Terris has been named one of America’s Top Doctors in urology by Castle Connelly Limited for 15 consecutive years, which represents the top one percent in the country.
The rest of the population should start talking to their doctor about screening at age 50. Thanks to advances in treatment techniques, a cure is possible for a large percentage of men diagnosed with the disease.
Treatment options include removing the prostate through surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and cryotherapy. But Terris said the key is catching the cancer sooner, rather than later.