September 2011

Cancer of the Prostate is an Inevitable Cause for Concern. For Men.

Author: Edward Thomas

Prostate cancer are two words most men don’t like thinking about – but become an inevitable cause for concern as they approach 50 years of age and beyond.

Board certified urologist, Dr. Richard R. Vanderslice on the active medical staff of Hilton Head Hospital points out that the treatment of prostate cancer keeps improving and men who have shied away from screenings in the past should feel more comfortable in stepping forward because of the high cure rate if the cancer is detected early enough.

Typically screenings should start at age 50,” said Vanderslice – but my youngest diagnosis was a man age 42.”

Prostate cancer is a form of cancer that develops in the prostate gland of the male reproductive system. If cancerous, the cells in the prostate may spread to other nearby parts of the body. Symptoms may include difficulty in urinating or urine leakage, problems during sexual intercourse or erectile dysfunction. Although it is a highly prevalent type of cancer in men, most cases are slow growing and often symptom free.

National statistics from the American Cancer Society show a much higher incidence rate for prostate cancer among African American males as well as men with diets high in animal fat, a history of alcohol abuse or a family history of prostate cancer.

During the past decade prostate cancer overtook lung cancer as the most common cancer among men in the USA (approximately 750,000 cases annually) and it is the highest cause of death from cancer among men over age 75.

Vanderslice concurs that historically one of the biggest challenges in prostate cancer treatment has been simply to get men to visit their personal physician for a screening. (After all, who likes a digital rectal exam?) However, he notes that in the past few years the healthcare industry has seen an upward trend of physician visits by men resulting from massive television advertising by erectile dysfunction products. Because of these increased visits, physicians have been able to look into other issues affecting male patients — like cholesterol problems and heart disease, and have been able to conduct more prostate screenings.

In addition to early detection, improved treatment has also helped the decline of prostate cancer mortality.

Men with early-stage prostate cancer are generally able to choose what kind of treatment is best for them, and there is a variety of choices available with different kinds of side effects which can impact both the man and his spouse. The age and underlying health of the patient and the extent of the cancer metastasis are key considerations when making a choice of which is best.

Sometimes physicians may recommend a particular treatment because of what is already known about a patient’s personal risk factors. In some older patients, simple monitoring of the cancer with PSA tests and biopsies may be an option.

Treatment options for prostate cancer with intent to cure are primarily surgery, radiation therapy, stereotactic radiosurgery (which is a precise beam that destroys the cancerous tissue) and proton therapy, another procedure where external beams of protons are used to irradiate diseased tissue.

Surgery to remove the prostate is an option when the cancer has not spread beyond the prostate gland. This surgery is called radical prostatectomy.

One of the newer alternatives according to Dr. Vanderslice is called cryotherapy which is minimally invasive and causes cancer cells to die by freezing them.

Prostate cancer is a complex disease, and each man’s experience will be unique. Regardless of the treatment path they ultimately follow, men should carefully evaluate all their options and even get a second opinion ifthey have several choices available.

For more information about prostate cancer, speak with your doctor or visit the American Cancer Society website at

Wednesday, September 21 11AM to 1PM
Hilton Head Hospital is offering a prostate screening for men ages 50 – 70, and those 45+ with a family history and/or who are African American. Screening includes a PSA Blood Draw.
Call for fees and a reservation, 1-877-582-2737

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