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Feature Article

Early Detection & Screenings Impact Prostate Cancer Outcomes

By Layron Long, MD

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men, affecting roughly 15 percent in the U.S. It is the third-leading cause of cancer deaths among American men, behind lung and colorectal cancer. Men 65 years of age or greater, African American men and those with a family history of prostate cancer are at highest risk.

Nearly 161,500 men nationwide will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2017. Early detection of prostate cancer is critical, and can often result in a 90 to 95 percent cure rate. Common signs of prostate issues to watch for include burning, pain, trouble starting or stopping urinating; frequent urge to urinate at night and loss of bladder control.

Standard methods of diagnosis include a physical exam, specifically a digital rectal exam, a blood test and ultimately a biopsy of the prostate.

Recently, other common means of screening such as PSA (prostate-specific antigen) have been controversial due to the lack of sensitivity and specificity of this diagnostic test. There is no specific normal or abnormal PSA level. Because of this, PSA levels are closely monitored to determine whether further investigation, such as a biopsy is needed. Other clinical factors such as age, family and medical history are also considered.

With new modes of prostate cancer screening on the rise, like genetic testing integrated with MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) for detection of specific areas in the prostate to be biopsied, detection has never been more precise.

If a prostate is diagnosed as cancerous, genetic testing can serve as a new tool to help direct treatment. 

The diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer requires state-of-the-art technologies and trained staff. Fortunately for our patients, Samaritan Health Services is equipped with such resources.

Layron Long, MD, is a urologist at Samaritan Urology – Corvallis. Dr. Long also sees patients in Samaritan Health Services’ coastal communities. He can be reached at 541-768-5486.