Ask the doctor, with Dr. Maz Ganat.
(Courtesy of Englewood Health Medical Center) If you ask most men in their 50s and 60s what medical screening they’re overdue for, chances are they’ll tell you it’s their prostate screening. Urologic care, which includes treating conditions of the prostate, bladder, kidney, testes and penis, is often an uncomfortable topic of discussion for men who are experiencing signs of a problem. Maz Ganat, MD, program director of urologic oncology at The Lefcourt Family Cancer Treatment and Wellness Center at Englewood Health, and a urologic surgeon in the Englewood Health Physician Network, encourages men to push past the awkwardness and have the important conversations.
Do I really need to schedule my prostate screening now? Can’t it wait?
It’s important to discuss with your doctor if and when prostate cancer screening is right for you. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men in the U.S. (after skin cancer), but it can be monitored or treated successfully when caught early. In the early stages of prostate cancer, patients often don’t experience symptoms that would alert them to get checked; however, screenings can detect the disease. Those at average risk for developing prostate cancer should discuss the risks and benefits of screening starting at age 50–55, while those at higher risk—African American men or men with a family history of prostate cancer—should begin screening earlier, starting at age 45 or, for those at highest risk, age 40.
I’ve heard the screening exam is really uncomfortable. What can I expect?
While it may not be the highlight of your day, a prostate exam can be an important part of screening. We start by taking a family history and discussing any change in urinary habits. The PSA (prostate-specific antigen) blood test and the digital rectal exam (DRE) help detect prostate cancer. What many men are most nervous about is the examination, but it’s generally very quick and allows us to feel for any abnormalities in the prostate.
When I get my screening, what should I talk to my doctor about?
Urinary issues, which are commonly related to BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia), shouldn’t be minimized or ignored. Going too often? Noticing slower stream, urgency or discomfort? Not fully emptying your bladder? These symptoms are important to discuss with your doctor, especially if you experience them more than once or if they last longer than a week. Your primary care physician should be able to guide you in the right direction.
To find a urologist at Englewood Health, visit www.englewoodhealthphysicians.org/urology.