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Yet another well-known politician has announced that he has prostate cancer. Senator Chris Dodd (Democrat, Connecticut) described his experience that began with a rising PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen; a blood test). This screening test plus a physical exam first detected what is apparently a very early stage of prostate cancer. He then had a biopsy which showed prostate cancer.
Like so many other stories, Senator Dodd described “getting a lot of information” from others, including fellow United States Senators who previously were treated with prostate cancer. He decided to have prostate surgery at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. His story is very similar to that of Sen. John Kerry.
As Sen. Dodd described, his type of prostate cancer is very common and may affect one in six men, depending upon how long they live. It can be a very manageable cancer with a good prognosis if it is detected early. That’s why I agree with those who recommend an annual PSA blood test as part of their annual physical exam (including a rectal exam). Our readers should know that the American Cancer Society has a more reserved recommendation about the use of PSA for prostate cancer screening (see below for details from the American Cancer Society).
For more information about prostate cancer surgery, go to our blogs about this subject. For more print information, go to our companion website www.patientresource.net.
American Cancer Society statement on PSA screening:
The American Cancer Society (ACS) does not support routine testing for prostate cancer at this time. ACS does believe that health care professionals should discuss the potential benefits and limitations of prostate cancer early detection testing with men before any testing begins. This discussion should include an offer for testing with the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test and digital rectal exam (DRE) yearly, beginning at age 50, to men who are at average risk of prostate cancer and have at least a 10-year life expectancy. Following this discussion, those men who favor testing should be tested. Men should actively take part in this decision by learning about prostate cancer and the pros and cons of early detection and treatment of prostate cancer.
This discussion should take place starting at age 45 for men at high risk of developing prostate cancer. This includes African American men and men who have a first-degree relative (father, brother, or son) diagnosed with prostate cancer at an early age (younger than age 65). This discussion should take place at age 40 for men at even higher risk (those with several first-degree relatives who had prostate cancer at an early age).
If, after this discussion, a man asks his health care professional to make the decision for him, he should be tested (unless there is a specific reason not to test).
For more information, go to their website at www.cancer.org