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April 26, 2022

7 Things You Might Not Know About Prostate Cancer

7 Things You Might Not Know About Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer often has no symptoms in its early stages. Because of that, many men are surprised when they receive a prostate cancer diagnosis. Here are seven different things you might not realize about prostate cancer:

  1. Treatment for prostate cancer is often not started right away.

  2. PSA numbers are not the primary indicator of a prostate cancer diagnosis.

  3. New tests are available to diagnose prostate cancer.

  4. Prostate cancer symptoms are not unique.

  5. There may be a link between prostate cancer and diet.

  6. Younger men can be diagnosed with prostate cancer.

  7. Tests to predict prostate cancer growth are available.

1. Prostate Cancer Treatment Is Often Not Started Right Away

For many men, a diagnosis of prostate cancer doesn’t require immediate action or treatment. If the prostate cancer biopsy shows a slow-growing type of cancer the best option may be active surveillance. In these cases, your doctor will start to see you about every 6 months to recheck your PSA levels and to see if there are signs that the cancer has progressed. You may also have additional prostate biopsies periodically. Active surveillance, sometimes referred to as watchful waiting, is also a good idea when the effects of treatments may cause harmful effects that outweigh the benefit of the treatment.

Check out this blog: Why Wait to Start Prostate Cancer Treatment?

2. An Elevated PSA Number Is Not a Good Indicator of Prostate Cancer

For many years a high PSA level was mostly associated with a prostate cancer diagnosis. Previously, doctors would recommend a prostate biopsy for patients with PSA levels of 4.0 ng/mL or above, but studies have shown that other factors can cause PSA level increases. These factors include age, race, taking drugs used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BHP), or having prostate conditions such as prostatitis, urinary tract infection, prostate surgery, or biopsy.

If you are in a high-risk group, which includes having a sibling or your father affected by prostate cancer, talk to your doctor about starting prostate cancer screening earlier than age 50 and planning a schedule for future screenings. There are other risk factors that might contribute to an earlier screening schedule including race — African American men tend to have a higher rate of prostate cancer — and smoking.

If your doctor finds that you have an elevated PSA level you’ll likely need to have it retested more often than once a year to see if it keeps going up. You’ll also be evaluated for other possible causes of a high PSA.

Related Read: Does a High PSA Mean I Have Prostate Cancer?

3. There are New Tests Available to Identify Prostate Cancer

New diagnostic methods can help identify men at risk for prostate cancer or those already suffering from it. Some of these tests are called:

  • Prostate Health Index (PHI) - This score takes three measurements from the PSA test and determines the likelihood of prostate cancer being significant.

  • Confirm MDx - This test utilizes urine after a negative biopsy. This allows your cancer team to calculate a need for another biopsy or can help confirm the negative result.

  • 4K Score Test - This test uses blood following an elevated PSA test. It is used to evaluate the aggressiveness of prostate cancer and uses four biomarkers in combination with your clinical results to come to a finding.

  • Progensa Test - Urine is used to identify the need for another prostate biopsy.

  • EPI (ExoDx Prostate IntelliScore) - This test identifies the probability of prostate cancer being aggressive using a urine sample.

These tests are different from the standard prostate cancer screening tests including prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing, digital rectal exams, and transrectal ultrasound (TRUS).

4. Prostate Cancer Symptoms Are Not Unique

The symptoms of prostate cancer are not unique to prostate cancer. Which makes it harder to know if it’s prostate cancer based on symptoms alone. The most common signs of prostate cancer include:

  • problems with urination (such as difficulty starting, weak stream, and dribbling after you go)

  • needing to pee frequently

  • pain in your back or hips

  • blood in your urine or semen

  • trouble getting an erection

If you have started experiencing these symptoms, it could be prostate cancer, but only a biopsy will tell the oncologist if it’s cancer and how aggressively it’s growing. You should see a doctor as soon as possible who can run tests to gather more information. There’s a chance the issues are caused by a non-cancerous condition — so it’s always a good idea to talk with your doctor if you experience any of them.

5. There May Be a Link Between Prostate Cancer and Diet

Men who follow a diet high in fat and red meat may be at higher risk of developing prostate cancer. In addition, heavy smokers or drinkers have an increased risk of developing prostate cancer. Having a high-calorie, high-fat diet doesn’t mean you’ll definitely develop prostate cancer. But it does add to the factors that can lead to it.

6. Younger Men Can Be Diagnosed with Prostate Cancer

While prostate cancer is most common in men over 65, younger men can also be diagnosed with prostate cancer. About 10% of prostate cancer cases are in men aged 55 or under. There has also been some increase over recent years in prostate cancer among men under 40. The reasons why aren’t clear. If you’re at an increased risk due to a family history of prostate cancer, make sure that you talk to your physician about the right screening plan for you.

7. Tests to Predict Prostate Cancer Growth Rate Are Available

One promising area of prostate cancer research involves identifying men who are at risk for aggressive prostate cancer. A series of tests can reveal whether a man’s PSA levels or free-to-total ratio is high, indicating that he might be at risk for more severe forms of prostate cancer. If that’s the case, doctors may consider treating with radiation or chemotherapy before any tumor has been detected. This early intervention could potentially save lives. The tests that are currently available include:

  • Genomic or proteomic tests

  • Prolaris Test

  • Oncotype DX Prostate

  • ProMark Test

Find the Prostate Cancer Treatment Plan for You at Affiliated Oncologists

Although prostate cancer treatment has advanced and the recovery rate is very high, it's important to know the risk factors and watch for symptoms. If your risk is high for this type of cancer, discuss your prostate cancer screening schedule to see if you should start sooner or have them performed more often than average. Early detection gives you more choices for treatments.

If you were recently diagnosed with prostate cancer, the cancer specialists at Affiliated Oncologists help you create a treatment plan that works best for you and your life. We’re proud to live locally and provide men in Chicago Ridge, Mokena, Hazel Crest, Oak Lawn, and Palos Heights, IL with compassionate care by serving you in our convenient locations.

Categories: Prostate Cancer