With prostate cancer the most frequently diagnosed cancer in the United States, the American Cancer Society now recommends prostate exam for men starting at age 40, rather than at age 50. Last year, the ACS estimated that 244,000 men would be diagnosed with the disease and 40,000 would die, one death every 14 minutes.
The key to successful treatment and continued health and vitality is an early detection.
Specifically, the American Cancer Society advises digital prostate exam for men as of the age 40. For men age 50 and over, it recommends the prostate specific antigen blood test. In the case of African American males, among whom the incidence of prostate cancer is twice that of Caucasian men, PSA's are advised as of age 40.
According to Carl J. Rossi Jr., MD, a radiation oncologist at Loma Linda University Medical Center's proton treatment center, prostate cancer strikes more aggressively in men under age 50 and maybe life threatening if not treated in its early stages. Younger men are more vulnerable if there is a family history of prostate cancer.
"I would even go way step further and recommend that all men 40 and over should be screened by a PSA blood test," said Slater. "Since the disease usually has no symptoms in its early stages, the best way to fight it is with an early diagnosis. "
Cancer medical specialists are divided about the best treatment options for prostate cancer. The preferred mode of treatment is dependent on a number of factors, least of which is the size of the tumor and the stage of the disease. In many cases, the growth of the tumor is so slow that doctors must wrestle with the dilemma of "To treat or not to treat. "
Nonetheless, patients must ultimately make the decision, taking responsibility for educating themselves about all treatment options and their side effects.
If the cancer is localized, proton therapy can make a significant difference in the care and treatment of prostate cancer. A typical proton treatment program can take about seven weeks-although it is anticipated that this time frame will decrease-and is painless, noninvasive, bloodless, and has little or no side effects, common to other treatments.
Proton therapy uses high energy proton particles which are delivered by beam the to the tumor site. Since this beam has minimal impact on surrounding healthy tissues and organs, it is the most precise form of radiation treatment available today for numerous cancers and other diseases.
LLUMC Proton Treatment Center has treated more than 1,500 prostate cancer patients since it opened eight years ago. Many of the patients educated themselves about the treatment options and chose proton therapy. The noninvasive character of proton therapy allows treatment to be done on an outpatient basis, enabling the patient to conduct his usual daily activity.
Early detection is critical to successful treatment of prostate cancer, don't put off having a prostate exam. For more information about proton treatment, call 1-800-PROTONS (1-800-776-8667).