September 24, 2013
More than 200,000 men in the U.S. are expected to be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year.
Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men, other than skin cancer, but it often can be successfully treated if caught early. Dr. Kevin McVary, professor and chief of urology at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield, says the new screening guidelines depend on family history and race.
“... If you’re an average white guy, white male, no family history of prostate cancer, you wouldn’t start until age 50. And then you would have to think hard about it after age 69, so It would be a yearly screen from age 50 to 69. If you’re above 69, so 70 and above, then a routine screen is probably not in the cards unless the patient has some special circumstances or is particularly healthy for a 70 year old.”
Screenings for men age 40 to 50 are recommended only for African Americans, because they are a high risk group, and individuals with a family history of prostate cancer. Dr. McVary says the urination complaints that many men have are usually not related to cancer. He explains some symptoms.
“ ... There’s nothing – no symptom that is specific for prostate cancer and if you have a symptom for prostate cancer, usually that’s a sign that things have gotten somewhat advanced. What are those? If a man had unremitting new type of bone pain we would look at that as a potential sign of prostate cancer.”
Prostate cancer screening programs are available in many communities. Medicare and most health insurance companies usually cover prostate cancer screening tests, so men who are 50 years old or older or those who are 40 years old with a family history or are African American should ask their primary care physician about getting this important test.