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What Every Man Should Know About Prostate Cancer

April 13, 2024

The facts don’t lie — women are a lot better about going to the doctor than men are.

“Women may go to their gynecologist and obstetrician regularly for years, and, as a result, annual visits to the doctor becomes normalized. It’s not always that way for men, who also commonly face a stigma, or fear, about doctors,” says John Graham Jr., MD, a urologist with the Hartford HealthCare Tallwood Urology & Kidney Institute in Fairfield Country.

And unfortunately, that means more men coming in with advanced cases of prostate cancer because they aren’t being screened.

Here’s what you, or the men in your life, need to know about prostate cancer screenings.

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Most should start PSA testing at age 50

Most men should start being screened for prostate cancer every two years starting at age 50, according to the American Urological Association Guidelines.

But men with an increased risk should start even earlier, Dr. Graham says. This includes men that have:

  • Black ancestry
  • Family history of prostate cancer
  • Family history of other similar cancers, including breast, uterine and pancreatic cancers.
  • Genetic mutations that put them at higher risk of cancer.

“I start the PSA discussion with men over the age of 40. Men don’t love going to the doctor, so going every two years is easy to forget. I encourage them to be seen annually and then we’ll talk about your general health,” he says.

> Related: 5 Signs That Your Prostate Is Enlarged

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men.

Around one in every eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their life.

But the problem with prostate cancer is that the disease doesn’t have many symptoms, says Dr. Graham, which is why annual testing is so important.

“There really are no symptoms men typically come in to talk about. Usually when they come in with a symptom such as difficulty urinating, it’s due to non-cancerous reasons,” he explains.

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New technology is making it easier to treat prostate cancer.

The one piece of good news about prostate cancer is that there are new treatments that use technology like high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) to treat cancer while protecting healthy tissue.

“This is a minimally-invasive ambulatory procedure. Patients go home the same day,” Dr. Graham says.