Archive for the ‘prostate cancer’ Category

The New Skinny On Prostate Cancer Screening With the PSA Test

April 11, 2017

Prostate cancer remains one of the most common cancers in men and is the second most common cause of death from cancer in men.  (Lung cancer is still leading the list)  The American Cancer Society projects more than 161,000 new cases this year in the U.S., with about 26,730 deaths each year.  Prostate cancer accounted for 4.4% of all cancer deaths in the United States last year.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent and influential panel of experts, published new guidelines in early April 2017 for screening for prostate cancer for the first time in five years.

The new recommendations: Men ages 55 to 69 should “make an individualized decision about prostate cancer screening with their clinician.” That’s updated from a blanket recommendation in 2012 for no routine screening at any age.

The task force also recommends that those men older than 70 shouldn’t undergo PSA screening.

Now doctors are saying that the older recommendation in 2012, i.e., not to screen for prostate cancer likely resulted in deaths that could have been avoided..

The PSA test is a simple blood test that determines levels of the prostate-specific antigen protein, and elevated PSA can be a sign of prostate cancer. But elevated PSA can also be caused by other conditions, like inflammation of the prostate or benign enlargement of the prostate gland.

The risk of potential harm of over-diagnosis has led to confusing recommendations for screening. Treatment for prostate cancer, including removal of the prostate and radiation, is associated with the side effects of incontinence and erectile dysfunction.

False positives can lead to unnecessary further testing or treatment, and many cases of prostate cancer are slow-moving and require watchful waiting rather than immediate treatment.  This means that the men with slow growing, non-aggressive cancer can be followed with a digital rectal exam, frequent PSA testing, and perhaps additional prostate biopsies.

So how useful is PSA screening? According to the New England Journal of Medicine, studies imply that 1 prostate cancer death is averted per 1,000 men screened several times each, and followed for 10 to 15 years.

On the flip side, the authors reported, data show about 35 over-diagnosed cases per 1,000 men screened.

Some groups are at higher risk for prostate cancer, including African-American men and those with a family history of the disease.

Bottom Line: It is my recommendation to my patients 55-69 they have a discussion with their physician and weigh the benefits vs. the harms of PSA testing.  With that discussion the men can make the best choice for themselves, together with their doctor.

The Latest Advice on Screening for Prostate Cancer

April 5, 2017

The concept of screening for prostate cancer is a moving target. Screening for this common cancer in men has undergone significant changes in the past ten years. This blog is intended to provide you with advice on whether you should participate in prostate cancer screening.

 

Another progress being made is that men with early-stage tumors have been spared the side effects of treatment, such as erectile dysfunction (impotence) and urinary incontinence, which can be devastating. A recent report notes that 15 years after diagnosis, that 87% of men who underwent surgery and 94% of men who had radiotherapy were unable to engage in sexual intimacy.

 

So what do you need to know about prostate cancer screening?

 

Talk to your doctor about obtaining a PSA tests if you are at high risk for prostate cancer. These include African American men who are twice as likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer and have an aggressive form of the disease and 2.4 times more likely to die from it than Caucasian men.

 

Men with a family history of prostate cancer are twice as likely to have prostate cancer and to die from it.

 

New tests for prostate cancer

We have been looking for a test that will better predict prostate cancer than an elevated PSA level. There are four new tests to enhance the diagnosis of prostate cancer.

 

A urine test, PCA3 looks for the presence of a specific prostate cancer gene. This test is more accurate than the PSA test in deciding whether a man needs a prostate biopsy.

 

The Prostate Health Index (PHI) blood test evaluates three different components of PSA to determine whether the elevated PSA level is due to infection, benign prostate disease or possibly prostate cancer.

 

The 4K score blood test is similar to the PHI test but looks at four components which can predict a man’s risk of developing prostate cancer.

 

Finally, the prostate MRI or magnetic resonance imaging test which can accurately diagnose aggressive prostate cancer.

 

If any of these four tests are positive, then the next step is a prostate biopsy.

 

So what is my “bottom line” on prostate cancer screening? I suggest a baseline PSA test for all men at age 50 and for higher risk patients at age 45. Men with very low PSA levels, less than 0.7ng\ml at baseline can have the PSA test every 5 years, and those 60 and older with levels less than 2.0ng\ml or lower may be able to avoid future PSA testing for the rest of their lives….as long as they remain symptom free. If you have any questions, check with your doctor.

Give a High Five to High PHI-Prostate Health Index.

March 4, 2017

For the past 20 years the PSA has been the metric for screening for prostate cancer. More recently the U.S. Preventive Services Task Forces issue a recommendation against the use of PSA-based screening for prostate cancer in all men because PSA screening contributed to over treatment and over diagnosis of prostate cancer.

The prostate health index (PHI) was approved by the FDA in 2012 as a blood test that calculates a score based on the combination of three separate tests” PSA, free PSA and p2PSA. These simple blood tests will help determine the probability of finding prostate cancer if you have a prostate biopsy.

PHI should be considered for men with PSA levels >3, who have not had a prostate biopsy as well as for me who had one prior negative prostate biopsy and who might be considered at higher risk for prostate cancer.

The PHI helps to distinguish between prostate cancer and benign prostate diseases like benign enlargement of the prostate gland and prostate infection. The PHI improves the diagnosis of prostate cancer with men who have a PSA between 2-10 where 4.0 is the cut off currently considered for men who should have additional studies, evaluations, or a prostate biopsy.

The PHI enhances the ability to detect prostate cancer in men with a normal physical examination and in men whose PSA is between 2-10. The PHI has helped to decrease the number of men who are subjected to a prostate biopsy, which leads to over diagnosis and over treatment.

Also the PHI can be used in men who have received a diagnosis of prostate cancer and have been placed on an active surveillance protocol, which means no treatment but regular examinations with a digital rectal exam and a blood test. Men followed on the active surveillance protocols who have a low PHI score can be followed without treatment. On the other hand, those with an elevated PHI score may be advised to have a repeat biopsy and consider for definitive treatment. Thus the PHI helps the patient and the doctor determine if the man has more aggressive prostate cancer and needs additional treatment.

Bottom Line: Prostate cancer is most common cancer in men after skin cancer and the second most common cause of death after lung cancer. Now there are blood tests like the PHI that help fine-tune the diagnosis and help men decide to participate in close follow up or proceed to a prostate biopsy.

Treatment Options for Men With Prostate Cancer-Side Effects You Need to Know

January 22, 2017

Prostate Cancer is the most common cancer in middle aged and older men.  It is the second most common cause following lung cancer of death from cancer in men.

This article will discuss the most common treatment options for prostate cancer and what are the side effects of these treatments.

For younger men with localized disease, surgical removal of the prostate gland either with an open 6-8-inch incision or through a robotic prostatectomy-5 small pencil-sized holes in the lower abdomen that removes the entire prostate gland.

Temporary or even permanent erectile dysfunction (impotence) occurs in many of the men who undergo surgery.  Urinary incontinence, inability to control the flow of urine, occurs in 3-30% of men who have their prostate gland surgically removed.

For older men or for men who have prostate cancer beyond the prostate gland, radiation therapy is treatment option.   The side effects include temporary fatigue, diarrhea or other bowel problems, urgency of urination, and impotence (ED).

For men with spread of prostate cancer beyond the prostate into the bones or lymph nodes, then hormonal therapy is often recommended.  Hormone therapy is used in men with advanced, high-grade prostate cancer. Hormone therapy is also used in men who cancer has recurred after being treated with radiation therapy or surgery.  This is usually determined with an elevation of the PSA level.  Prostate cancer is very sensitive to testosterone, the male hormone produced in the testicles, and removal of testosterone reduces the cancer and helps control the disease but does not cure the problem.

The side effects of hormonal therapy include reduced libido, hot flashes, softening of bones or osteoporosis which leads to bone fractures, impotence, loss of muscle mass, fatigue, weight gain, and increased risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Chemotherapy is indicated for men who do not respond to removing the testosterone produced by the testicles.  Chemotherapy leads to hair loss, nausea\vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, muscle pain, and weight loss.

Proton therapy is a similar to external radiation that targets difficult to reach tumors and is designed to allow higher doses of radiation to be delivered to the prostate with fewer side effects.

Bottom Line:  Over the past few years there have been numerous options available for the management of localized prostate cancer and even prostate cancer that has spread beyond the prostate gland.  New Orleans has several doctors who are national and even global experts in managing prostate cancer.  For more information, contact your doctor.

Treating Prostate Cancer By Close Monitoring or ActiveSurveillance

November 25, 2016

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in older men and second most common cause of death due to cancer in men over the age of 50.  This year more than 180,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and more than 30,000 men will die of this disease.  There are multiple treatment options for prostate cancer including surgery, radiation, hormone therapy and now there’s a new option: watchful waiting or active surveillance.  Active surveillance means no treatment but careful monitoring with regular digital rectal exams, PSA testing, and possible other tests and\or imaging studies.  This blog is intended to help men who have received a diagnosis of prostate cancer to help guide them in the decision of active surveillance or more aggressive standard treatment options.

What you need to know

The prostate gland is a walnut-sized organ at the base the bladder and surrounds the urethra or the tube in the penis that transports urine from the bladder to the outside of the body.  The prostate gland’s function is to make the fluid that mixes with the sperm and provides the sperm with nourishment to help fertilize an egg and start the process of conception.

For the first part of a man’s life the prostate gland provides pleasure and enjoyment.  After age 50 for reasons not entirely known, the prostate gland starts to grow and compresses the tube or the urethra and produces difficulty with urination.  Again, for reasons not entirely known the prostate cells grow uncontrollably and this results in prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is a very common as one in seven American men will develop prostate cancer.

There are two tests used to detect prostate cancer: 1) the digital rectal exam and 2) the PSA or prostate specific antigen test.  PSA is a protein made by the prostate gland.  An increased level of PSA can be a sign of prostate cancer but an elevation is also seen in men with prostate gland infections and benign enlargement of the prostate gland.

Active surveillance is now considered an acceptable management option in certain men with prostate cancer.  Active surveillance is a type of close follow up. In addition to the PSA and digital rectal exam, a repeat biopsy may be indicated.  A biopsy test called a fusion-guided biopsy is one of these newer tests that combines the MRI with real-time ultrasound images of the prostate.  Genomic tests are another development for prostate cancer assessment.  These tests look at the DNA of the cancer to decide if the cancer is stable or growing.  If any of these tests indicate that the cancer is growing, you may require additional treatment.

At the present time there is no universal agreement about how often the tests should be done for men who are participating in active surveillance.  Patients who are at low risk, that is have a low PSA and a biopsy that reveals a reasonably favorable pathology report, then he can have his PSA check every six months.  It is also common to have a repeat biopsy 12-18 months after the diagnosis.

Candidates for Active Surveillance

Men with early stage prostate cancer that is confined to the prostate gland are the best candidates for active surveillance.  Also, good candidates are men without symptoms and have prostate cancer that is slow growing.  Finally, older men with serious other medical problems which may interfere with treatment are potential active surveillance candidates.

The benefits of active surveillance is that it is low cost, safe, and has no side effects.  Men are able to maintain day-to-day quality of life and not have any of the complications of treatment such as impotence\ED or urinary incontinence.  The risk is that men can become complement and not follow up as often as they should and that the cancer can grow and become more aggressive.

Bottom Line:  Prostate cancer is a common problem in middle age and older men.  Most men if they live long enough will develop prostate cancer.  However, most men with the diagnosis of prostate cancer will die with the cancer and not from it.  My best advice is to have a conversation with your doctor and see if active surveillance is right for you and your cancer.

Prostate Cancer

October 21, 2016

What do Jose Torres, John Kerry, and Jerry Lewis have in common?  They all have prostate cancer and have been successfully treated.  Nearly 250,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year and nearly 30,000 men will die of prostate cancer.  This article will discuss the symptoms of prostate cancer and what can be done to diagnose the

The most common prostate problems are an enlarged prostate, prostatitis and prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer frequently has no symptoms and most men will have prostate cancer and not be aware of the diagnosis.  Symptoms that occur as a result of any prostate condition including benign enlargement of the prostate gland and prostate cancer include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Getting up at night to urinate
  • Pain with urination
  • Difficulty starting to urinate
  • Blood in the urine
  • Bone pain
  • Impotence or Erectile dysfunction (ED)

 

Risk factors associated with prostate cancer include:

The condition is rare in men under 40 years of age, but most cases are found in men aged 50 or older. At age 80+ nearly all men will have prostate cancer but will seldom succumb to the disease or they have prostate cancer but will not die from it. 

Genetic factor may contribute to prostate cancer risk. Men who have a father, brother, uncle or cousin with prostate cancer are 2 to 3 times more likely to get the condition as compared to men without prostate cancer in a close relative. 

African-American men also have an increased risk of having prostate cancer. It is suggested that African-American men start seeing a doctor for a digital rectal exam and a PSA test after age 40.

Studies have found that obese men have a greater risk of developing more advanced prostate cancer as well as a higher risk of metastasis and death from the condition.

Many studies have found a link between smoking and getting prostate cancer as well as an increased the risk of dying from the condition.

High fat diet has been shown to put men at high risk of prostate cancer. Some studies show that men who have diets high in red meat may raise a person’s chances of developing prostate cancer. 

Bottom Line:  Prostate cancer is the second most common cause of death in men due to cancer (lung cancer is number one), and is very treatable if the diagnosis is made early.  This can be accomplished with a rectal examination and a PSA test.  Speak to your doctor for more information.

 

PSA Testing for Prostate Cancer-To Screen or Not to Screen That is the Question

September 28, 2016

Today, nothing is more confusing for men than the concept of screening for prostate cancer.  Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men, following lung cancer, and there are 250,000 men each year diagnosed with prostate cancer and causes nearly 30,000 deaths a year.  About one in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime.

But some prostate cancers develop slowly, and, as the disease is more common in elderly men, most men with prostate cancer die with it and not from it. Thus, screening, diagnosis and treatment of the disease are controversial.

There is no consensus about prostate cancer screening as early diagnosis can be associated with very bothersome side effects such as erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence.  Also screening has not been universally shown to increase survival or decrease the death rate from prostate cancer.  This article will discuss the pros and cons of PSA screening for men.

Men who opt for screening undergo a digital rectal exam and a blood draw to measure a chemical called PSA or prostate specific antigen. This level of PSA can be increased in men with prostate cancer. Other conditions may cause the increase in the PSA such as benign enlargement of the prostate gland and prostate infections.

The best way to detect an early potentially deadly case is to collect yearly PSA tests over three to five years so trends can be assessed.

I like most other urologists are concerned about over treatment of prostate cancer — in other words, being too aggressive in using surgery or radiation when a small amount of potentially slow-growing cancer is found on a biopsy.

The federal government has also become concerned about this issue. A large medical research trial called the Prostate Lung Colorectal and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening Study released results from 2009 showing no benefit from screening for prostate cancer when comparing a large group of unscreened men to a large group of aggressively screened men.

Researchers across the country are assessing the effects of the USPSTF recommendations on prostate cancer mortality since 2012. In a recent study from Northwestern University in Chicago, researchers found a significant increase in the cases of advanced prostate cancer already spread to other parts of the body from 2004 to 2013. As a result we could be missing serious cancers because of decreased screening.

Prostate cancer also has a hereditary predilection and men with a father, brother, cousin, or uncle should consider having screening around age 40.  This also applies to African-American men who have a greater risk of prostate cancer than Caucasian men and should also have testing after age 40.

My best advice is to ask your doctor\urologist about the decision to undergo prostate cancer screening.

Tomatoes and Not Potatoes May Help Prevent Prostate Cancer

July 8, 2016

For many years I have been focused on nutrition and various urologic diseases, especially prostate cancer.  Although the relationship between prostate cancer and diet is certainly a consideration, the use of tomatoes may be one of the strongest preventive options a man can take to avoid prostate cancer.

There are many health advantages of eating more tomatoes, which includes a lower risk of prostate cancer and other cancers as well. While the good news is Americans eat more tomatoes and tomato products than any other non-starchy vegetable, about 90% of adult men fail to consume the 2.5 cups of vegetables per day recommended by the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Tomatoes contain a high antioxidant content, specifically lycopene. Lycopene has been the subject of many research studies regarding its protective effect against prostate cancer.

In men with prostate cancer, lycopene supplementation has been shown to be safe and tolerated well in doses up to 120 mg per day for up to one year. Toxicity is generally very mild, with diarrhea as a possible side effect at very high doses.

There appears to be a protective effect of tomatoes and tomato products on the prevention of prostate cancer as well as improvements in biomarkers of disease status, including the PSA levels.

A unique characteristic of tomatoes is that unlike the nutrients in other fresh fruits and vegetables, lycopene is more bioavailable after tomatoes are cooked and processed. This fact opens up even more possibilities for individuals to enjoy the benefits of lycopene.

According to the US Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, ½ cup of tomato paste contains 18.84 mg of lycopene, while an equal amount of tomato sauce has 17.12 mg, spaghetti sauce has 15.82 mg, and tomato juice has 10.88 mg of lycopene.  One-half cup of raw tomatoes, however, contains only 2.32 mg of lycopene. Non-tomato products that contain lycopene include watermelon (1/2 cup has 3.44 mg) and grapefruit (1/2 fruit contains 1.75 mg).

More recent hypotheses have looked at the advantages of whole tomatoes, which are excellent sources of vitamins A and C, fiber, and potassium, and identified other protective elements beyond lycopene. Vitamins A and C are potent antioxidants, while fiber has been shown to reduce cholesterol, and potassium is helpful in lowering blood pressure and possibly reducing bone loss.

Experts in nutrition and cancer note that the preponderance of evidence suggests that consumption of whole tomatoes and tomato products should be preferentially recommended because of greater consistency of documented positive outcomes with the whole tomato and the concomitant supply of other important essential nutrients.

Given that tomatoes and tomato products are already dietary favorites, increasing their consumption can achieve several goals, including reduction in the risk of prostate cancer and other diseases, and helping Americans achieve the recommended daily intake of 2.5 cups of vegetables.

Bottom Line: Prostate cancer is the most common cancer (besides skin cancer) in men and the second most cause of death in men following lung cancer.  Men can be easily diagnosed with a PSA test and a digital rectal exam.  Man can also decrease their risk of prostate cancer by consuming lycopene, an antioxidant, which is plentiful in tomatoes.

Smelling Prostate Cancer

February 19, 2016

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in older men with nearly one quarter of a million new cases discovered each year.  It is the second most cause of death in men with over 25,000 deaths each year.  Now there is a new diagnostic device that can detect prostate cancer in men’s urine.

A new device, Odoreader, was developed in the UK which can be helpful in disgnosing prostate cancer by identifying the unique odor in the urine of men with prostate cancer.

The researchers looked at a total of 155 men of which 58 had been diagnosed with prostate cancer by evaluating their urine with the Odoreader. The researchers found that Odoreader was able to successfully identify patterns of volatile compounds from urine samples, and detect those that indicate cancer.

Unfortunately at the present time there is no accurate test for prostate cancer. The standard used to day is the PSA blood test. The PSA test is not specific for prostate cancer and may also detect other prostate conditions such as benign enlargement of the prostate as well as prostate infections. The PSA test indicators can sometimes result in unnecessary biopsies, resulting in psychological toll, risk of infection from the procedure and even sometimes missing cancer cases. This new testing procedure can detect cancer in a non-invasive way by smelling the disease in men’s urine.

The Odoreader could pave the pathway for a new detection technique of prostate cancer, making invasive diagnostic procedures like a prostate biopsy less necessary and potentially saving the lives of many men who fight the disease.

Bottom Line: Prostate cancer is a prevalent medical problem affecting thousands of American men.  Now there is a new technique for the diagnosis of this disease which is non-invasive, accurate, and will help men avoid unnecessary diagnostic studies and perhaps unnecessary surgery.

PSA Testing-What Every Man Needs to Know

January 18, 2016

Prostate specific antigen is a simple blood test that can be a metric for prostate health.  It is a good screening test for prostate cancer.  This blog will discuss the PSA test and what you need to know to make a decision to obtain this common test.

Let’s start by reassuring men that having an elevated PSA level does not necessarily mean you have prostate cancer.

PSA is also likely to be increased with benign enlargement of the prostate gland as well as prostate infections or prostatitis.

It is important to emphasize that the PSA test is not a specific prostate cancer test, but it is a vital first step in screening for the potential presence of cancer.

The other factors that can cause PSA levels to rise:

  • Age: PSA levels can increase gradually as you age
  • Prostatitis: Inflammation of the prostate gland, due to infection or some unknown cause
  • Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH): This condition refers to an enlarged prostate.  More prostate means more cells making prostate specific antigen, increasing the potential for an elevated PSA.
  • Urinary tract infection: can irritate and inflame prostate cells and cause PSA to go up
  • Medications: Some medications like Proscar, Avodart, or Propecia can falsely lower your PSA.  This too is important to remember.  If you are on any of these medications, talk to your doctor.  The general rule of thumb is to double your PSA for an accurate score.
  • Sex/ejaculation:  This can cause a mild elevation in the PSA, but should return to normal after a few days. That is why I usually recommend that men refrain from sexual intimacy for 48 hours prior to PSA testing
  • Prostate trauma: Anything that causes direct trauma to the prostate such as riding a bike, having a catheter inserted into the blader, a prostate biopsy, or a cystoscopy which is a look using a lighted tube through the urethra (tube in the penis that transports semen and urine) can increase the PSA temporarily.

A PSA level of less than 4.0 ng/mL is normal, while changes of more than 2.0 ng/mL over the course of a year could be an indicator of the presence of prostate cancer.

I point out that there is a familial or inherited basis of prostate cancer and also an increased risk of prostate cancer in African-American men.  In these men who are are at a greater risk of prostate cancer, I suggest annual testing with a digital rectal examination and a PSA test after age 40.  For all others, I suggest testing begin at age 50.

For men who have an elevated PSA test, then a discussion with the doctor about repeating the test in a few weeks or proceeding to an ultrasound examination and a prostate biopsy is in order.

Bottom Line: PSA testing is a non-specific test used to screen for prostate cancer.  Not all elevations of the PSA test indicate cancer.  Further testing and close monitoring as well as a prostate biopsy is in order.  For more information, speak to your doctor.