The best gifts to a loved one demonstrate that you are thoughtful, care for them, and ideally, are affordable. What better way to show your dad that you care than by doing something that could keep him around longer? This is why, while celebrating Father's Day next weekend, you should encourage him to get tested for prostate cancer. It's very simple (a PSA blood test and rectal exam,) covered by all insurances, and could save his life.
Prostate cancer will be diagnosed in one of every six men in the US, as it is diagnosed in about 200,000 men each year. It is the second leading cause of cancer death, killing about 30,000 men each year. When caught early, through screening, prostate cancer is curable in over 95 percent of men. However, many men continue to be diagnosed too late, when it is advanced, and thus no longer curable. Although we continue to make great strides in the treatment of advanced prostate cancer, it remains a terminal disease.
Knowledge is Better
Getting screened for prostate cancer can best be described as gaining knowledge about your body. A single PSA blood test does not diagnose prostate cancer, but does provide very valuable information about your prostate. By examining how PSA changes over time, we can identify important trends that can lead us to perform a prostate biopsy, which is how we diagnose cancer.
But I've heard prostate cancer screening is unnecessary?
Early results of two large studies, one in the US and one in Europe, had different results regarding the value of PSA screening. However, the results remain very early, and it appears that the value of screening will continue to grow as the patients in the studies are followed for longer periods of time. One of the biggest concerns raised by these papers was regarding the "overtreatment" of prostate cancer, the idea that some people who are diagnosed with cancer do not benefit from treatment. This assumes that all patients diagnosed with prostate cancer will need and undergo treatment, which isn't necessarily true.
What if he is diagnosed with prostate cancer?
Some men are afraid that if they get found to have prostate cancer, they will need to have some form of invasive treatment. This is not true. Certain men can be closely followed without any intervention, with treatment reserved for those who develop more aggressive cancer. Fortunately with our experience in open surgery, laparoscopic techniques in the past and now the technology of da Vinci prostate surgery, I am able to cure the patients from their prostate cancer while preserve their quality of life such as sexual function and urinary continence.
This Father's Day, give your father the gift that keeps on giving: his life.
David B. Samadi, MD is the Chief of Robotics and Minimally Invasive Surgery at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. As a board-certified urologist and an oncologist specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of urologic diseases, kidney cancer, bladder cancer, and prostate cancer, he also specializes in many advanced minimally invasive treatments for prostate cancer, including laparoscopic radical prostatectomy and laparoscopic robotic radical prostatectomy. His Web site, Robotic Oncology, has been translated into six different languages and is one of the most popular urology sites on the Internet.