Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the United States, after skin cancer. Most men with prostate cancer are older than 65 years, with the disease occurring more often in African-American men than in white men.
Robert Wilson, MD, primary care physician at Roane County Family Practice, says, “In the United States, 11 to 13 percent of men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in their lifetime.”
According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is the second leading cause of male cancer-related mortality in the United States with 34,700 deaths estimated in 2023.
Who should get screened?
Dr. Wilson says, “I typically screen men with an average risk at age 50 and every one to two years after that. For African Americans, I recommend they begin screening at age 45. People who have a first-degree relative (such as brother, father or son) diagnosed with prostate cancer before the age of 65 should also start screening at age 45.”
What does a prostate cancer screening involve?
“A prostate cancer screening typically involves a prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test and digital rectal exam,” says Dr. Wilson. “Even though organizations disagree about the utility or effectiveness of prostate screening tests, they all agree that patients and doctors need to have a frank discussion about cancer screening and the pros and cons of testing.”
How rapidly does prostate cancer grow or spread?
Prostate cancer tends to grow slowly. This means it’s often found and can be treated while it’s still only in the prostate. In fact, some prostate cancers may not need to be treated right away. They can be watched and then treated if they start to grow.
If prostate cancer isn’t treated and grows, it can spread into other parts of the prostate. Over time, it may grow outside of the prostate and into nearby tissues, like the bladder or colon. When cancer spreads to other parts of the body, it’s called metastasis. Once the cancer has grown outside the prostate, it can spread to nearby lymph nodes, too. If prostate cancer spreads to distant parts of the body, it may spread to the bones or other organs, like the lungs, liver, or brain.
What should male patients ask their doctor?
Dr. Wilson says it is very important for patients to discuss prostate cancer screenings to learn the pros and cons, any risks involved and their risk of developing various cancers with their primary care doctor or urologist.
To find a primary care physician near you, visit CovenantHealth.com/Find-A-Doctor.