Martha Jefferson Healthwise -- August 19th

August 19, 2009

Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer in men. Caucasian men have an 18% lifetime risk and African American men have a 21% lifetime risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer. Although about one in six men will be diagnosed during his lifetime, prostate cancer is a highly treatable form of cancer, with both surgical and radiation treatment options.

Joining Beth Duffy for Martha Jefferson Healthwise this week was urologist Dr. Geoffrey Habermacher.

Click on the video link above to watch the full interview.

***Here is a script of the interview***

BD: WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF PROSTATE CANCER?

GH: Unfortunately, prostate cancer does not cause symptoms until the later stages. In order to cure prostate cancer it must be caught in the early stages when it is still asymptomatic.

BD: IF IT HAS NO SYMPTOMS, HOW CAN PROSTATE CANCER BE CAUGHT IN THE EARLY STAGES?

GH: Early prostate cancer diagnosis has two parts. The first part involves the identification of men at high risk of prostate cancer and the second is an office-based biopsy procedure.

Generally speaking, men with a family history of prostate cancer in a close relative like a brother or their father as well as African American men are at increased risk. However, the factors that help us determine an individual person’s risk are how his prostate feels on rectal exam and his PSA blood test results. So, if a man has an abnormal feeling prostate or an elevated PSA then a prostate biopsy would be recommended.

BD: WHAT HAPPENS IF CANCER IS FOUND ON THE BIOPSY?

GH: At this point the urologist should thoroughly discuss the biopsy results and treatment options. In broad strokes, the options for prostate cancer treatment include surgery, radiation, testosterone lowering medications, and chemotherapy. Of these options only surgery and radiation are capable of curing prostate cancer.

BD: WHAT IS INVOLVED IN SURGERY FOR PROSTATE CANCER?

GH: Surgery for prostate cancer involves the removal of the prostate and all of its coverings. This occurs in the hospital under general anesthesia and typically involves a 2 day inpatient stay following the surgery. This can be performed via an open surgical approach or robotically.

Currently in the US about 75% of the prostate surgeries are performed robotically. Surgery is recommended for younger men with localized prostate cancer who are in overall good health. Thus, surgery is rarely performed on men over 70 years of age or with severe medical conditions which would reduce their life expectancy to less than 10 years.

Of course, the key is to catch the cancer as early as possible. Martha Jefferson Hospital will be holding a prostate cancer screening on September 26, from 8-10:30, in the main hospital.


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