Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, second only to skin cancer.
The most accurate screening tool is a simple blood test called a PSA, or prostate specific antigen screening.
It can pick up the first warning signs of prostate cancer. But when should you start getting tested? And how often do you need one of these screenings?
And Dr. Scott Miller, Director of Laparoscopic and Robotic Surgery at Northside Hospital and Georgia Urology says, "The message gets very confusing." Dr. Miller worries men may be getting so many mixed messages, they're not sure what to do.
He says, "Probably the mistake I worry about most when it comes to prostate cancer is people doing nothing. Never going to a doctor. Never getting a screening. Not finding out what type of screening is right for you."
The problem? Assessing risk isn't a one-size-fits-all approach. Dr. Miller says some men are low risk, and need minimal screening. Others are higher-risk and need closer monitoring.
He says, "So, someone that is African American, for instance, if they have a family history of prostate cancer, that person should definitely start screening at age 40 in my opinion. Someone who has no risk factors, you can still make an argument for one PSA at age 40.
After that baseline test, Miller says low-risk men could go up to ten years before their next PSA test, though he wouldn't recommend it. He says you don't want wait for symptoms, like a frequent need to urinate, because, if it is cancer, the disease may already have a foothold. He says, "Once a man has symptoms of prostate cancer, it's often beyond a cure. We can still treat them, but it's often beyond the point of cure."
So how can you lower your risk? There's still debate about that. But, MayoClinic.org recommends:
- a low fat diet
- plant-based fats
- lots of fruit, vegetables
- and cutting back on dairy.
And Dr. Miller says you may want to watch your sugar, too.
He says anything considered heart-healthy is probably going to be cancer-healthy, too.