As of 2017, doctors have identified over 70% more cases of prostate cancer than two decades ago. The disease affects one in every eight men in the United States. It causes uncontrollable growth of abnormal cells in the prostate gland which can create tumors that spread to other places in the body. While the cells often grow slowly, the rate of diagnoses is skyrocketing.
Does that mean prostate cancer is on the rise? Medical Center Urology in High Point, NC, weighs in on whether more men have prostate cancer or if the sudden uptick in diagnoses has another cause.
In the past, urologists and oncologists screened for prostate cancer by testing PSA levels, or prostate-specific antigens. This protein is created in the prostate gland and can indicate that a man has prostate cancer. However, these levels change as men age, often increasing from year to year. Due to this natural gain, some PSA tests may give off a false positive, giving the patient and doctor an unnecessary cancer scare.
To remedy this issue, the American Urological Association has stopped urging younger men to get the screenings. Instead, they recommend starting the process at age 55 and getting tested every two years until age 69. This prevents unnecessary biopsies, prostate removal, and potential erectile dysfunction due to unnecessary treatments.
No one knows for sure why prostate cancer diagnoses are on the rise, but improved testing guidelines can help reduce the occurrence of incorrect tests and treatments.
Individuals with a family history of prostate cancer should talk with their urologists about getting early testing to catch the disease as soon as possible. High Point, NC, residents can call Medical Center Urology at (336) 882-0220 or visit their website to learn about their state-of-the-art facility, more than 23 years of service, and expertise in urology treatments and diagnoses.