Prostate Cancer Awareness

Studies show that screening saves lives

September 2010

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness month, which is a good time to remind men that screening for the disease has been shown to save lives.

“There have been two European trials that have shown somewhere between a 20 to 50 percent reduction in the risk of dying of prostate cancer in men who were screened for prostate cancer,” says Eric Klein, MD, Chairman of the Glickman Urological & Kidney Institute.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists prostate cancer as the most common cancer among men. The American Urological Association recommends that men receive a baseline PSA, or prostate specific antigen blood test, and exam at age 40 to screen for the disease.

Dr. Klein says screening for prostate cancer is becoming more precise with the availability of the PCA3 test, which helps doctors distinguish PSA elevations that are cancerous versus non-cancerous. The PSA test, however, is still considered part of standard screening and is a valuable tool, especially when screening younger men.

“Your PSA when you’re in your mid-40s is actually pretty predictive of your lifetime risk of prostate cancer,” Dr. Klein says. “If it’s above what the average population is, then that’s something you need to pay attention to. Furthermore, in men who do not have enlarged prostates, BPH changes in PSA over time are also predictive of the likelihood of cancer.”

Dr. Klein, who holds the Andrew C. Novick, MD, Distinguished Chair in Urology, says your primary care physician can order a PSA test. However, the newer PCA3 test will have to be ordered by a urologist.

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