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Message for Men: Take Charge of Your Prostate Health

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Angelo Baccala Jr., MD, is LVHN's Chief of Urology and a urologist at LVPG Urology–1250 Cedar Crest. He also serves on the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s Task force for prostate cancer and related conditions. 

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Your Next Step

Learn about life-saving screening and treatment options for prostate cancer.

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Let’s face it. If you’re like most men, you are uncomfortable talking about your prostate gland. The truth is, it’s something you simply can’t afford to ignore. That’s why my message to men is to “man up” and take charge of your prostate health.

The announcement today that Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf was recently diagnosed with a mild form of prostate cancer is one example why men need to take charge of their prostate health early.

Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in America. In 2015, the American Cancer Society estimates that about 220,000 U.S. men were diagnosed with prostate cancer, and an estimated 27,500 died from it. Early detection offers the best chance for a cure, yet many men are reluctant to get checked. This reluctance can impact their health in more than one way.

Prostate cancer screening not only helps detect cancer when it’s most treatable. It also can detect other prostate issues that, when treated, can improve quality of life.

Know the symptoms

Prostate cancer occurs mainly in older men. Nearly two-thirds of all cases are diagnosed in men 65 or older, and it is rare before age 40. Prostate cancer often does not have any symptoms in its early stages. Prostate cancer that is more advanced may cause symptoms such as:

  • Trouble urinating
  • Decreased force in the stream of urine
  • Blood in the urine
  • Blood in the semen
  • Swelling in the legs
  • Discomfort in the pelvic area
  • Bone pain

If you or someone you love is experiencing any of these symptoms, seek medical attention. To schedule an appointment with a board-certified urologist, call 610-402-CARE.

Screening guidelines

prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test helps doctors detect prostate cancer before symptoms appear. Prostate cancer screenings also typically include a digital rectal exam. Abnormal results in either of these tests may lead to further testing — such as an ultrasound or biopsy — and possibly treatment.

The sooner treatment begins, the more effective it is. If a low-grade cancer is detected, which poses minimal risk and does not require immediate treatment, the patient can be followed closely for any changes. This process, known as active surveillance, allows any future treatment to begin at the earliest possible stage.

Men with a family history of prostate cancer – and African-American men – are the best candidates for screening. I encourage all men to talk with their doctor about their risk level and the appropriateness of screenings.

Once we’ve identified and discussed any potential risk factors, men can choose a next step that makes the most sense for them. These talks also can reveal additional problems or symptoms that warrant more investigation.

So take your next step now. Talk with your doctor about your prostate health.