Tuesday, October 24, 2017

IpadAndIphoneSWVA OctNov 2017CLICK HERE
for the
current digital
version of
OurHealth
magazine!

Featured Stories

Prostate's Big Eight

Written by  Rick Piester

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, a time set aside each year to focus on the disease that is the second largest cancer killer of men in the United States.

The good news, however, is that if prostate cancer is caught early, the five-year survival rate is almost 100 percent. To help observe this special month, we talked with some local experts about prostate cancer, its detection, and its treatment. Here's what they say to help you keep ahead of the game, and possibly avoid prostate cancer.

Am I at a higher risk for developing prostate cancer based on my race?

Yes, race has been shown to be a factor contributing to one's risk. African-Americans, for instance, have a much higher probability of developing prostate cancer than other races. Caucasian, Hispanic, American Indian/Alaska Indian and Asian individuals also present an increased risk, in that order.

   Douglas S. Reeve, PA-C

   Carilion Clinic Urology
   Christiansburg | 540.382.3440

If I have a family history of prostate cancer, should I get checked more often?

The American Urological Association recommends early screening for those at a higher risk, and especially for those with a family history of prostate cancer. Current guidelines indicate that routine screenings for non-high risk males should begin at age 55, whereas those at high risk or with a family history should begin screenings at 40 years old.

   Douglas S. Reeve, PA-C

   Carilion Clinic Urology
   Christiansburg | 540.382.3440

Are there self-tests I can perform to check for prostate cancer? (Similar to self-breast exams women can perform for breast cancer.)

Unfortunately, there are no self-tests to check for prostate cancer. If you feel that you are experiencing symptoms such as enlarged prostate, urinary difficultly and/or hesitation, or lower abdominal pain; to check with your urologist.

   Christopher Hicks, MD

   LewisGale Physicians
   Blacksburg | 540.552.1353
   www.lgphysicians.com

What’s involved in testing for prostate cancer?

Initially, I will perform a rectal exam to check for enlargement, firmness, or nodularity presence in the prostate. Then I will conduct a blood test to identify an elevated PSA. (Prostatic specific antigen) The PSA blood test is a higher acuity screening tool for enlarged prostate or prostate cancer. If this test comes back abnormal, we also have an option to conduct a 4K Score test. The 4K Score test combines four prostate-specific biomarkers with clinical information to provide patients with an accurate measure of their risk for prostate cancer. If both of the rectal exam and PSA blood tests come back atypical, a prostate biopsy is highly recommended and is the only way to confirm a prostate cancer diagnosis. I will perform the prostate biopsy which will determine the presence and grade of cancer and the biopsy results will guide the course of treatment that I recommend the patient proceed with. Additionally, depending on the higher grade, I will order a full body scan and CT of the Abdomen, Pelvis, and Chest to rule out metastasis. The types of treatment can range all the way from bi-annual monitoring to a Prostatectomy with Chemotherapy and Radiation. At that point, I will refer to Oncology.

   Christopher Hicks, MD

   LewisGale Physicians  
   Blacksburg | 540.552.1353
   www.lgphysicians.com

At what age should I start getting a prostate exam?

There are two main ways that men are usually checked for prostate cancer. These are the PSA (prostate specific antigen) test and the DRE (digital rectal exam). The PSA is a blood test. For the DRE, a provider inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to feel the prostate. The tests may be done at the same time or at different encounters. Men who are at average risk for developing prostate cancer should begin screening at age 50 years. Men who have a higher risk for developing prostate cancer should begin screening no later than age 45. Those who have a higher than average risk for developing prostate cancer include men who are African American, and men who have a first degree relative (father, brother, or son) who was diagnosed with prostate cancer at less than 65 years old.

   Wallisa Vaughn, MD

   VA Premier Health Plan
   Roanoke | 800.727.7536

What are symptoms of prostate cancer?

Often, early prostate cancer is silent. There are no symptoms. Signs of more advanced disease may include:

  • Problems urinating - This may include urinary frequency (needing to go often), weak urinary stream, pain or burning while urinating, difficulty emptying the bladder completely, or difficulty starting a urinary stream.
  • Blood in the urine or semen
  • Trouble getting or maintaining an erection
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Pain or stiffness in the back, chest, hips, or thighs

   Wallisa Vaughn, MD
   VA Premier Health Plan
   Roanoke | 800.727.7536

What are treatment options for prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer and treatment options are as numerous and diverse as the patients who are affected. Every treatment plan should be individualized based on disease stage, risk of recurrence, and overall health of the patient. Prostate cancer treatment planning often requires the input of multiple specialists, including a surgeon (urologist), radiation oncologist, and medical oncologist. It is also important for patients to take an active role in the decision making process from the beginning.

Because of modern screening techniques, most prostate cancers are diagnosed early. Sometimes observation (or active surveillance) is all that is recommended. If cancer is confined to the prostate gland, surgery to remove the prostate or radiation therapy may be recommended. For high risk disease, hormone therapy may be added. Once disease has spread outside of the prostate gland, systemic therapy is often recommended. Options include hormone therapy, chemotherapy, immune therapy, and combinations of these. Finally, let’s not forget the role of nutrition and exercise in the treatment of patients with prostate cancer at all stages. Both have been shown to improve overall outcome.

   Heather Brooks, MD

   Medical Oncologist
   Blue Ridge Cancer Care
   Blacksburg | 540.381.5291

 

 

SWVA