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Prostate Cancer 101

Doctor's holding chalkboard that reads "Men's Health'

Jun. 17 2021

What do men need to know about prostate cancer? T. Brian Willard, MD, Lexington Urology, has quick answers to nine common questions about prostate cancer.

Q. What is the prostate and what does it do?

A. The prostate is a reproductive organ which makes the fluid that sperm survive and swim in.

Q. When should men begin prostate cancer screenings?

A. African American men have a higher incidence of prostate cancer so they should begin screenings at age 40, regardless of whether they have a family history of the disease.

Non-African Americans men should begin prostate screenings at age 50 if they have no family history of the disease. If they have family history of prostate cancer, they should begin screenings at age 40.

Q. What happens during a prostate cancer screening?

A. Your physician will talk with you about your medical history and examine your prostate, including a digital rectal exam. You will also have a blood test called a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. PSA is a protein produced by both cancerous and noncancerous tissue in the prostate.

Q. How common is prostate cancer in men?

A. It’s very common; in fact, 1 in 7 men will get prostate cancer in their lifetime.

Q. What factors increase a man’s risk of prostate cancer?

A. Having a family history of prostate cancer in a first-degree relative (grandfather, father, or brother) is the greatest risk factor. Exposure to certain military chemicals, like Agent Orange, is now thought to be associated an increased risk for prostate cancer.

Q. What are signs and symptoms of prostate cancer – or that something is wrong with the prostate?

A. There are often no symptoms of prostate cancer. It is usually detected by an abnormal PSA level and possibly by an abnormal digital rectal exam.

Q. What prostate cancer treatment options does Lexington Medical Center offer?

A. Treatment options could include active surveillance, surgery to remove the prostate, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, and some other less common treatments such as cryoablation or high intensity focused ultrasound.

Q. What is the survival rate for prostate cancer?

A. The survival rate depends on the patient’s risk group, which is determined at the time of diagnosis based on PSA level, tumor size and biopsy of the cancer cells. The risk groups are low, intermediate, and high risk. In general terms, low-risk prostate cancer patients rarely die from prostate cancer, in contrast to high-risk patients, where a large percentage do die from prostate cancer.

Q. What do you want men to know about prostate cancer?

A. The most important thing they should know is to get screened. Don’t put off that screening!

Head shot of Dr. Willard
T. Brian Willard, MD, Lexington Urology

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Disclaimer: This blog is intended for general understanding and education about Lexington Medical Center. Nothing on the blog should be considered or used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Blog visitors with personal health or medical questions should consult their health care provider.