Knowing When to Treat Prostate Cancer

One in nine men in the United States will develop prostate cancer during his lifetime, but only one in 41 succumb to the disease. If you’ve been diagnosed with prostate cancer, there are many factors you should take into consideration when deciding upon a treatment plan.

At Arizona Urology, our team of men’s health experts has extensive experience helping our patients find the right path forward after a prostate cancer diagnosis. From a wait-and-see approach to removal of your prostate, here’s a look at when we should address your prostate cancer.

Understanding the numbers

When we make a prostate cancer diagnosis, it’s typically after we’ve performed a number of tests, including a biopsy, which can help guide our recommendations.

One of the first determinants as to how far along your prostate cancer has advanced is the Gleason scoring system. This grading system measures how aggressive the cancer has become and how much tissue is involved.

Based on a score of one to five, we test the primary tumor, as well as any secondary growths, to determine how much of the tissue is abnormal. We then score each of these from one to five and add the scores up for a final tally.

Most Gleason scores range from 6-10, and the higher the number, the higher your risks are for aggressive growth and spreading. In most cases, a Gleason score of 6 or under calls for a conservative approach, while a score of seven or higher may require a more aggressive treatment plan.

Another number-based assessment tool is testing your prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels. While high PSA levels (anything over 4.0 ng/mL) is cause for concern, we typically recommend that we take action when the levels reach 10 or higher. High PSA levels alone may not be worth basing your decision on, as there are benign conditions that can cause higher numbers.

Your age and genetics

Further points to consider in deciding upon a treatment plan include your age and your genetics.

For example, if you receive a prostate cancer diagnosis and you expect to live 10 years or more, aggressively treating the cancer may be appropriate. Most prostate cancers are slow growing, so the older you are, the less you may have to worry about the cancer growing and spreading. If you expect to have a long life ahead of you, treating the cancer before it becomes problematic may be the best course of action.

As another example, if you have a strong family history of prostate cancer, you may be genetically disposed toward a more aggressive form of the disease, which may make intervention a good idea.

Your comfort level and commitment

Another very important factor when considering prostate cancer treatment is your comfort level and your lifestyle. If we treat your prostate cancer, we want to ensure that you have support systems in place to help you with recovery.

On the other side of this equation, if you opt for active surveillance, you need to be committed to this process and keep up with your regular evaluations and tests with us.

The bottom line is that only you can make the decision as to how aggressively, if at all, you want to treat your prostate cancer. Rest assured, we’re here to guide you every step of the way, making sound recommendations where needed.

To learn more about your options for treating prostate cancer, contact one of our locations in Goodyear, Glendale, Gilbert, and Phoenix, Arizona, to set up a consultation.

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