Dr. Crawley: Thanks for having me, Jocelyn.
Jocelyn: When we say the second leading cause of death, how many men die from prostate cancer every year?
Dr. Crawley: Well, in Connecticut, it's about 300 men a year die every year, nationwide, quite a bit more than that. So it's a big problem.
Dr. Crawley: Well, the challenge with prostate cancer is there aren't a lot of symptoms, and especially there aren't a lot of symptoms early on in the disease when treatment is effective. And so, because of that, screening is a real push that urologists and primary care doctors make to try and catch things early.
Jocelyn: Screening is so important, we all know that. And so what age should men start screening?
Dr. Crawley: Well, that’s a bit controversial, and it varies on who you talk to, but the important thing is to start having the conversation with your physician, and it depends on your risk factors when the appropriate time is. For most men in the general population, it’s around age 55, that you should start having screening, and we continue that till about age 70.
Dr. Crawley: Correct, family history is a very important risk factor, and if you have family members, fathers, brothers, that have had prostate cancer, screening should start as early as 40 in some of those cases.
Jocelyn: We also know that African American men are especially impacted by this. Why is that?
Dr. Crawley: Well, we don’t know exactly why the incidence of prostate cancer is higher in African American men, but it is, and it’s also more aggressive in that population, so we’re trying to be more aggressive with screening in the African American population to help them with that risk.
Dr. Crawley: The guidelines say around age 45 is right for most African American men, depending on other risk factors, but the important thing is to have the conversation and have an assessment of your risk factors by your primary care doctor or urologist.
Jocelyn: The screening itself, talk us through that.
Dr. Crawley: Sure.
Jocelyn: Exactly what it is that they need to be doing?
Dr. Crawley: Sure, and it is a source of anxiety--- Yes it is. For a lot of men, the annual prostate exam, but it’s cheap, it’s not invasive, it’s not painful. It’s a quick physical exam in the office with your primary doctor or urologist, and a simple, inexpensive blood test, and that is what screening consists of for most men.
Dr. Crawley: Well, the blood test we’re talking about is called the PSA test, and an elevation in the PSA test does not always mean prostate cancer, but it can raise concerns and prompt us to do more testing that can determine if cancer’s present.
Dr. Crawley: Well, that’s correct. Well, there are various treatment options available, and it depends on what type of cancer’s present and how much of it, the patient’s age, and their other health issues. For most men, the options are surveillance, so watching cancer and intervening if it gets more serious. Surgery to remove the prostate, which can be done minimally invasively now. Or radiation therapy to destroy the cancer cells with radiation.
Jocelyn: So the most important thing here is, of course, to get that screening.
Dr. Crawley: I agree, and I think the most important thing is to have a conversation with your doctor and consider screening, and that’s what Prostate Cancer Awareness Month is all about, is trying to raise awareness of the disease, and get guys out there to get their screening.
Jocelyn: If detected early, we can monitor this very closely.
Dr. Crawley: In most cases, Yes, unless of course, it’s an aggressive form, For most cases, yes.
Jocelyn: Dr. Crawley, thanks so much. Thank you. for sharing this information, it's so important.
Dr. Crawley: Thanks for having me. – You’re welcome.