USC Urology Experts Share Valuable Insight During Prostate Cancer Awareness Month
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men except for skin cancers, according to the American Cancer Society. However, innovations in diagnostics and treatment have made prostate cancer a very treatable disease, with a 98% five-year survival rate.
Knowing your risk factors can help inform your screening decisions
“Prostate cancer is more common in men over age 50, so men should be more vigilant about screening as they age. Many of the known risk factors for prostate cancer are genetic – African American men and men with a family history of prostate cancer may need to screen earlier or more frequently.
“I recommend that men between the ages 45 to 49 have a baseline prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test. Depending on the baseline PSA levels, they should have a PSA test every 1 to 2 years until the age of 70. Ultimately, the decision to do a PSA test should be a shared one between the patient and physician.”
Prostate cancer diagnostics is more than just a PSA test
“An abnormal PSA test result could indicate prostate cancer, but it also could be due to other non-cancerous prostate conditions. A prostate biopsy is typically the next step to confirm the presence of cancer; but because the prostate is a sensitive area, this can cause negative side effects like pain, incontinence or erectile dysfunction. Also, because cancer does not grow uniformly throughout the prostate, it is possible to get a false negative result.
“Keck Medicine is leading a National Institutes of Health-funded clinical trial to see if using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and ultrasound imaging can help us more accurately predict potential cancerous areas of the prostate. This may lead to more accurate results, fewer biopsy targets and, in some cases, eliminate the need for a biopsy altogether.”
- Inderbir S. Gill, MD, founding and executive director of USC Urology, Distinguished Professor and chair of the Catherine and Joseph Aresty Department of Urology, Shirley and Donald Skinner Chair in Urologic Cancer Surgery and associate dean for clinical innovation at the Keck School
Prostate cancer innovations help urologists create personalized treatment plans for each patient
“Urologists, oncologists and radiation oncologists have a big toolbox of treatments for prostate cancer patients, including radical therapy, like robotic prostatectomy (surgical removal of the prostate) or radiation therapy, as well as systemic treatments like hormone deprivation therapy or chemotherapy. Additionally, for select patients, focal cryoablation and high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) ablation are treatments that have a lower risk of complications or side effects.
“Patients and doctors should communicate openly about all potential options to strategize tailored treatment plans for each patient’s individual needs.”
- Andre Abreu, MD, urologist, Keck Medicine, and assistant professor of clinical urology and radiology at the Keck School.