The statistics surrounding prostate cancer are certainly eye-opening. One in 9 men in the United States will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime and there are nearly 175,000 new diagnoses each year. While these numbers may sound frightening, the fact is that nearly two-thirds of men over the age of 70 have some form of prostate cancer, but only one in 41 succumbs to the disease.
At Arizona Urology, our highly qualified team of board-certified urologists understands the behavior of prostate cancer and helps their patients navigate the tricky waters of this diagnosis. Through early detection, the team is able to step in and intervene, but knowing when to do is a decision that’s best made on a case-by-case basis — and your input is critical.
To help you consider the decision from every angle, here’s what you should know about treating prostate cancer.
Active surveillance versus early treatment
If you’ve received a prostate cancer diagnosis, your first decision is whether you should treat the disease quickly or take a wait-and-see approach and step in only when the cancer becomes more active or aggressive.
The good news is that we’ve identified the problem, which means that we can vigilantly monitor cancer. But this does entail frequent blood testing, as well as regular biopsies. While these active surveillance measures are both minimally invasive procedures, they still require a commitment of time, and there is some recovery to consider after each biopsy.
Conversely, if we step in right away and proactively treat the cancer, it might entail one or more of the following:
- Hormone replacement therapy
If you opt for a prostatectomy, we can also remove the cancerous tissue using the state-of-the-art daVinciⓇ robotic surgical system.
Know your risks
To help you decide which course of action is best for you (between early treatment or active surveillance), let’s take a look at a few more factors that should be part of the equation.
First, when we screen for prostate cancer, we use a blood test that determines your prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level. Normal levels of PSA typically fall under 4 nanograms per liter. If your PSA levels fall between 4 and 10, there’s a one in four chance you may have prostate cancer, but if your levels are over 10, the likelihood of prostate cancer goes up to 50%.
Next, if we decide that a biopsy is in order, our goal is to determine the stage of your prostate cancer, which we do using a Gleason Score. These scores range from 2 to 10 — but it’s not until the numbers go over 6 that we consider stepping in. And even then, a score of 6 is considered low grade, while a 7 is intermediate, and a Gleason Score of 8-10 is considered high grade.
Another factor to consider is whether you have any family history of prostate cancer. If the men in your family tree have a strong history of this cancer, this may swing the pendulum toward early intervention.
It’s YOUR decision
At Arizona Urology, we firmly believe that the decision to treat prostate cancer is yours to make and that you should do what’s best for your peace of mind, your lifestyle, your age, and your health. Our job is to make sure that you understand all of your options and that you have the information you need to make this important decision.
If we were to go by numbers alone, we typically recommend treatment for prostate cancer if your PSA levels are above 10, your Gleason Score is 7 or above, and/or you have a family history of the disease. But these are numbers, and each of our patients has unique circumstances. For example, we feel it’s important that you have a good support system in place before you start any treatment. As well, if you’re dealing with another medical condition, adding prostate cancer treatment may seriously affect your quality of life.
To help you weigh your options, our prostate cancer specialists are available every step of the way. Simply contact one of our offices in Goodyear, Glendale, Gilbert, and Phoenix, Arizona, to get started. Give us a call at, 623-512-4390, or use the online booking tool to request an appointment