ASK THE EXPERT: Understanding when to screen for prostate cancer

Ask the Expert

GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) — Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer for American men, aside from non-melanoma skin cancer, according to the CDC.

Early detection is key to survival.

As part of our “Ask the Expert” series in partnership with Bon Secours St. Francis Health, 7 News’ Taylor Murray spoke with an oncologist to find out what you need to know.

“Prostate cancer is what it sounds like– it’s cancer of the prostate gland.”

Dr. Will Lowrance, a Urologic Oncologist, says the age men should start being screened depends on their risk level for prostate cancer.

“Men at average risk should probably start screening using a PSA test around age 45.”

Dr. Will Lowrance, Urologic Oncologist, Bon Secours St. Francis Health

If you are at a higher risk you need to start screening sooner– at age 40.

“Meaning you’re African-American, you have a first degree relative who was diagnosed with prostate cancer, especially if they were diagnosed at an early age, or if you have relatives that say have breast ovarian cancer.”

Dr. Lowrance says the most common way to screen for prostate cancer is with a rectal exam and a blood test.

“It is a PSA blood test. PSA stands for prostate specific antigen.”

But there is one problem with the PSA blood test.

“The problem is PSA can be elevated in a man for a number of reasons besides cancer.”

Therefore, many doctors now take an extra step before jumping to biopsy a man with elevated PSA.

“We will do an MRI first to better gauge their risk of prostate cancer.”

Some prostate cancers require treatment, like radiation, but others can just be monitored by your doctor.

“They need to speak with a medical oncologist or another urologist… to understand all of their treatment options.”

Most men don’t show symptoms until the cancer has spread outside of the prostate to the lymph nodes, bones, liver, or lungs. That is why screening is so important.

Dr. Lowrance says that in general men over the age of 75 can stop prostate screenings.

Right now, there is no FDA approved drug that is routinely prescribed to reduce a man’s risk of prostate cancer.

To submit a health topic for our series, click here.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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