Health Wise: Dr. Jim McAndrew discusses prostate cancer


Dr. Jim McAndrew with Urology Tyler leads the Sept. 28 Walk with a Doc at Rose Rudman Trail.

He will discuss prostate cancer.

Walk With a Doc, a project of the Smith County Medical Society, begins with registration at 5:45 p.m. The presentation begins at 6 p.m. at the Copeland Road trailhead, followed by walking.

Q. How common is prostate cancer?

A. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men (after skin cancer). One in eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. There were more than 180,000 new cases in 2016 (as much as lung and colorectal cancer combined).

Q. What are some of the risk factors for developing prostate cancer? Is it genetically linked?

A. The main risk factors are race (African-American men are at higher risk for developing prostate cancer and at higher risk for dying from prostate cancer) and family history (if a man's father or brother has prostate cancer, he is at higher risk).

Q. Does testosterone supplementation affect prostate cancer development?

A. Testosterone supplementation does not cause prostate cancer, but can stimulate cancer growth if a man develops prostate cancer while taking extra testosterone.

Q. What is a PSA test? Do all men need to check a PSA?

A. PSA (prostate specific antigen) is a blood test that measures a chemical in the blood stream that is released from prostate cells. Both normal prostate cells and cancerous prostate cells release the chemical. Cancerous cells tend to leak more of this chemical into the blood stream than normal cells. Because of this, we use the test to put men into risk groups for prostate cancer - the higher the PSA number, the bigger the risk of having prostate cancer. The normal value is less than 4.0.

All men who are healthy enough to consider treatment for prostate cancer should consider getting an annual PSA blood test. The American Urologic Association suggests men between 55 and 70 should consider getting the test. Men with a family history of prostate cancer and African-American men should start at age 40. There are a lot of healthy men over age 70 who should consider continuing to get their PSA test annually. There is also some very interesting new data which suggests all men should get their first PSA at 40. If it is above 0.8, they fall into a higher risk group and should be monitored more carefully.

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