Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer in men. Those at highest risk have a family history of it, are 60 or older, or are African American.
James Williams, Chairman, PA Prostate Cancer Coalition, is also a 25-year prostate cancer survivor.
“When you’re diagnosed with cancer, to most people, it’s a death sentence. Although today, we have more than 13 million cancer survivors,” said Williams. “The key to it not being a sentence is early detection, and that’s through screening.”
Dr. Prashant Desai, Radiation Oncologist with Pinnacle Health, said most prostate cancers are detected through screening.
“Most patients are caught on a PSA screening and it’s usually asymptomatic,” said Desai. “If you do get some symptoms they’re usually urinary symptoms. You know some burning, maybe some blood in the urine.”
The PSA test, or Prostate Specific Antogen test is the most common screening tool. The standard age to begin screening is 50.
“The PSA test is very easy. It’s just a blood test,” said Desai. “You just go give your blood and it tells you the level of PSA in your blood and gives you an idea if you’re more likely to have prostate cancer than not.”
If your numbers are high, then your doctor will suggest additional tests.
Prostate cancer may be the most common type for men, but it’s also one of the most treatable.
“For most people, the treatment options are surgery or radiation with some hormones,” said Desai. “In terms of cure rate, it depends on the kind. So we break it down into different risk categories. So for the lowest categories, the cure rate is 90%, 95%.”
Governor Tom Wolf downplayed his diagnosis. Both men weighed in.
“Obviously in his case, I’m not sure exactly what he has so it’s hard for me to say,” said Desai. “If you do catch it early on, it’s very high, high rate of cure.”
“He went in for an annual physical examination and they detected it early, so he’s way ahead of the game and should have no fears at this time,” Williams said.