As a man in Lamar, you may have received a free PSA test during the fall at Prowers Medical Center in past years in honor of Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. It was a public service the hospital was happy to offer men, however studies and review of the test show it is not as effective as once thought.
In the last few years the formal recommendation for prostate screenings has changed. The U.S. Preventative Task Force on Health now says prostate screening tests are not advised across the board, and are rather an item to be discussed and decided between a patient and doctor on an individual basis.
Up until this year, Prowers Medical Center has provided free Prostate Specific Antigen tests or PSA tests to men in our community during the months of September and October. However, due to a decrease in the number of men interested in coming for the test, along with the taskforce recommendations, PMC has decided to discontinue the free tests.
Current National Recommendation on the PSA Test
“The taskforce states that PSAs do more harm than good, as the risk of follow-up treatment can outweigh the screening benefit,” said Dr. Hilton Ray, Family Practice Physician with Prowers Medical Group.
He explains that the test might flag 120 out of 1000 individuals, when only one truly has prostate cancer. The remaining often receive unnecessary exploratory tests and treatment.
Talk to Your Doctor about Symptoms or Family History
However, PSA tests are still recommended for those who are high risk and for those showing symptoms. Catching prostate cancer early often means a good outlook, so if you have a family history of the disease or have symptoms, talk with your doctor.
“If you have a direct relative, like a brother or father that had prostate cancer, the recommendations are to start getting screenings around the age of 45. Also, if you experience frequent urination or other symptoms, see your doctor,” Ray advised.
The Prowers Medical Group primary care clinic urges men to talk with their doctor if they have any concerns about prostate cancer. Your doctor will help you determine if a PSA test is right for you.
Facts about Prostate Cancer
As you probably know, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, and is the second leading cause of death from all cancers in the U.S. Men often don’t like to go to the doctor, and may rather assume that urinary symptoms are a sign of a bladder infection or a kidney problem, but it’s wise to get it checked out. This can be especially true for younger men. While most cases of prostate cancer occur in men over 50, some younger men do get prostate cancer.
While 1 in 6 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer at some time in their lives, that number increases to 1 in 3 for African Americans. Also, if you have a first degree relative who had prostate cancer your risk is doubled or tripled
Signs of Prostate Cancer
The best way to catch prostate cancer early is to know the signs. Luckily, signs are fairly obvious. According to the Mayo Clinic, signs include:
Decreased force in the stream of urine
Blood in your urine or semen
Pain in your lower back, hips or thighs
Discomfort in the pelvic area
Elevated prostate-specific antigen test (PSA)
Bottom line, getting a PSA screening test is a decision between you and your doctor. Do not hesitate to get checked if you have concerns.