Healthy Halifax Summer 2019: Men’s Health

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Screening Scrutiny

Prostate cancer is the second most common form of cancer, only surpassed by skin cancer. Men are at a higher risk of developing the disease if they are older, have a family history of prostate cancer or are African-American.

The prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test and a digital rectal exam are most commonly used to screen for prostate cancer. In recent years, however, the widespread use of PSA testing has come into question. In 2018, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force released its final recommendation on PSA screening, indicating that men aged 55 to 69 years should talk to their physician about the potential benefits and harms related to the test. According to the document, screening is not recommended for men 70 years and older. (Among the reasons are false-positive and false-negative results, and the stress and anxiety of living with slow-growing prostate cancer that does not require treatment.)

Men should begin discussions with their doctor about screening at age 50 if they do not have a family history. Those with a family history should start at age 40. The recommended age for screening for African-American men is 45. Talking with a physician helps men understand their risks and make more informed decisions.

Surgical removal of the entire prostate gland is a common treatment for prostate cancer, depending on age, overall health, stage of the cancer and whether the cancer has spread. Robotic surgery may offer a shorter recovery period compared with traditional surgical procedures.

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