September is National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. One in nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime, making it the most commonly diagnosed cancer among U.S. men and one of the leading causes of cancer deaths among men.
Dr. George Meyers with UCHealth Rockrimmon Primary Care says the times are changing when it comes to men getting their yearly prostate exam.
"The biggest thing is informing them of risk benefits, the type of screening that's available and that would be prostate lab work. So blood work, PSA blood level, is the specific test that's the biggest thing that we try to have our conversation with our patients. Generally, when you get to the 50 - 55 age range, with some specific patients we might do it a little earlier," said Dr. Meyers.
PSA, which stands for prostate-specific antigen, is a protein made by cells in the prostate gland. It is mostly found in semen, but smaller amounts are also found in the blood. They are considered a more reliable early warning signs of prostate cancer.
"In the last five, 10 years or so, most societies have gone away from doing rectal exams as part of the typical prostate screening. So when you come in for a screen now, the preventive task force and all the major players have decided that if we do screaming, it's just the blood work. Just the blood test, so you don't automatically get the old exam that we would do on everybody again by 10 years ago," Dr. Meyers said.
Dr. Meyers said even if the PSA level is elevated, that doesn't automatically mean the next step is a digital rectal exam.
"If the PSA comes back elevated, the key is getting you to a specialist. Even if it is not elevated, the next key is to continue to do a yearly screening. This is the one-time exam and it's basically a continued screaming over the years. If the PSA goes up, you may need a rectal exam with your primary care doctor or with your urologist," Dr. Meyers said.
During Prostate Cancer Awareness month, each day on News5 will profile a superfood you can incorporate into your diet. It’s called the “Eat It To Beat It” challenge.