Dr. Leonard DeCarlo, a urologist at Urology Tyler, leads this week’s Walk With a Doc event on Thursday and will discuss PSA screenings. Walk With a Doc, a project of the Smith County Medical Society, begins with registration at 5:45 p.m. at Tyler Junior College’s Pat Hartley Field. The presentation begins at 6 p.m., followed by walking. For more information on Walk With a Doc, call the Smith County Medical Society office at 903-593-7058 or visit walk
Q: What are the signs of prostate cancer?
A: In its early stages prostate cancer has no symptoms. Later there can be difficulties urinating or blood in the urine.
Q: Is it still treatable once symptoms have begun?
A: Prostate cancer is treatable, often quite successfully, in all stages. However, as with other cancers, cure is only possible when the disease is found in the early stages.
Q: Who is most at risk for developing prostate cancer?
A: The risk increases with age for all men, but African Americans and men with a first degree relative (i.e. father, brother, or son) are at greatest risk.
Q: Are there measures to take for prevention?
A: There are no approved methods to prevent prostate cancer, but it is associated with diets containing large amounts of red meat. Obesity seems to be associated with an increased risk as well, but that is not entirely clear. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables without too much red meat and maintaining a normal body weight are both easy to recommend and carry health benefits beyond any effect on the risk of prostate cancer.
Q: With much debate about PSA tests, how do you guide your patients on when and how they should be screened?
A: The decision of whether and how to screen should be made after discussion between the patient and his doctor, but my usual recommendation is annual screening beginning at age 50. Screening should start earlier in African Americans or those with a family history. Screening is discontinued when life expectancy drops below 10 years.
Q: Are there any alternatives to PSA tests in the works?
A: There are no real alternatives but there are a number of blood tests that can help improve the accuracy of the PSA. These are not always available or appropriate so it is best to consult with your physician.
Q: What do you believe is the biggest misconception about prostate cancer and PSA screenings?
A: That everybody or nobody should be screened. Neither is correct. The decision about who to screen and treat should be made based upon patient desires for patients of the appropriate age, health, and life expectancy.