Prostate Cancer Update: More Men Are Being Diagnosed With Aggressive Prostate Cancer; Absence Of Early Screening Tests To Be Blamed?

By Samantha Finch, Parent Herald July 20, 10:01 am

More men are being diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer. That type of cancer is aggressive and more dangerous because it spreads to other parts of the body.

In 2008, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, or USPSTF, advised against prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood testing of men over the age of 74, reported. In 2012, the same task force discouraged PSA blood tests on men even those who have high risks of prostate cancer.

Downsides Of PSA Screening Tests?

The USPSTF believes that PSA blood tests, which were done to detect cancer in its early stages, caused men to be treated for slow-growing tumors that aren't entirely threats to them. Sometimes those unnecessary treatments lead to side effects like impotence and incontinence, or loss of bladder control.

Doctors found that since 2004, cases of metastatic prostate cancer almost doubled in men aged between 55 and 69 despite less PSA testing. Dr. Edward Schaeffer, chair of urology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Northwestern Medicine, said there are two possible reasons why the number of men with metastatic prostate cancer is increasing.

One theory is prostate cancer has developed aggressively despite the change in PSA blood tests. The other hypothesis is screening guidelines have slacked off and men's prostate cancer has reached aggressive levels prior to its detection.

Doctors Stress Importance Of PSA Screening Tests

Schaeffer is adamant on his belief that PSA screening is highly important to save people with prostate cancer. The disease's advanced stages are incurable, and it makes sense for men with high risk of it to undergo screening tests early on so cancer won't reach aggravating levels.

Dr. Jonathan Simons, president and CEO of the Prostate Cancer Foundation, said prostate cancer is "100 percent treatable if detected early," NBC News reported. Not every patient needs surgery or radiation, but everyone with prostate cancer should have precise care and treatment for their disease.

Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in American men, second only to lung cancer. This year, around 180,890 new cases of prostate cancer and 26,120 deaths due to the disease were recorded, according to the American Cancer Society.

Early prostate cancer doesn't exhibit symptoms. Advanced prostate cancer, meanwhile, causes grave symptoms like erectile dysfunction, blood in the urine or semen, problems urinating, pain in body parts that cancer has spread, and weakness or numbness in the legs or feet.

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