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To prevent late diagnosis and support men’s health, advancements in early detection methods and monitoring tools have come onto the market.

Living Your Healthiest Life By Understanding Your Prostate Cancer Risk


Each year, especially as we age, living our healthiest life is always a priority. For those of us who have the pleasure of watching our children and grandchildren grow, health and well-being support our longevity and ensure we’re around for the people who depend on us.

 

As a key support for personal health and well-being, grandfathers, older men, and their support systems must understand and manage prostate health throughout the healthy aging journey. This requires being aware of your PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) levels and being proactive in your personal health management.

 

Prostate cancer prevalence and the need for more screening

Routine PSA testing has significantly declined since 2008, when the US Preventive Services Task Force recommended discontinuing it to combat overtreatment. However, prostate cancer remains one of the most common cancers among men, and advanced stage diagnoses are on the rise. In 2023 so far, over 288,000 men have been diagnosed and more than 33,000 men have passed away (source).

 

To prevent late diagnosis and support men’s health, advancements in early detection methods and monitoring tools have come onto the market. One of the more sophisticated diagnostic tools is called a prostate cancer biomarker (PCM) test, which should be used when a PSA test shows elevated PSA levels (above 1.5 ng/mL). These tests provide a more comprehensive picture of prostate health than PSA testing does alone, by differentiating between benign conditions and more serious concerns. Because of the comprehensive information these tests provide, they’ve been shown to reduce unnecessary treatments or health care tests.

Prostate cancer prevalence and the need for more screening

As we age, regular PSA screenings and follow-up PCM tests, when indicated, should become a consistent part of your health regimen. The tricky thing is that your doctor may not always proactively offer you this option due to conflicting screening guidelines. This is why it is critical to understand the importance of PSA screening and determine what type of follow-up biomarker testing (if any) is right for you.

Armed with this information, you can start a conversation with your provider focusing on:

  • Age and Risk Factors: Share your genetic and family history to help assess your need for early PSA screening. I recommend routine PSA screenings for men over age 50 at average risk and earlier screening for those with associated risk factors.
  • Post-PSA Discussion: If your PSA results are abnormal, inquire about PCM testing as a next step. These tests can reduce the need for biopsies by up to 40 percent.
  • Active Surveillance Strategy: PCM tests can also guide decisions after a biopsy, helping determine the most suitable treatment or surveillance approach.

 

Key questions for your healthcare provider

Equip yourself with questions to make the most of your appointment. Start with:

  • “What is your approach to PSA and follow-up PCM testing?”
  • “How could PCM tests refine my understanding of my prostate health?”
  • “Based on my PSA results, would you recommend a PCM test before proceeding with a biopsy?”
  • “What insights could PCM tests offer for my treatment plan?”

Being informed and prepared is a step towards proactive health care and having a conversation can significantly impact your health management.

As you enjoy all that 2024 has to offer, make sure that understanding prostate cancer risk and staying informed about testing options is top of your priority list so you can continue protecting your health. Here’s to a healthy 2024, surrounded by loved ones.

 

 

Written for Grand Magazine by Dr. David Crawford, Founder of PCMarkers.com and professor of urology at the University of California San Diego

 

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