According to Cancer.org, one in eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime. As the most common cancer in men and second leading cause of cancer death in men in the U.S., about one in 41 men diagnosed with prostate cancer will die of the disease—that’s more than 34,000 men who will die from prostate cancer this year.
Dr. Gary Ronay is a urologist specializing in prostate cancer evaluation, diagnosis and treatment at Tampa Bay Radiation Oncology and Urology. Dr. Ronay stresses the importance of following up with primary doctors to get screened for prostate cancer.
Early diagnosis of prostate cancer benefits patients by increasing their survival rates, he explained. “For those diagnosed with prostate cancer that has already metastasized or spread to the lymph nodes and bones, the survival rate drops to 30 percent at five years after diagnosis. If the prostate cancer is caught early enough and the patient gets appropriate state-of-the-art treatment, the cure rate and chances of remaining disease-free increase very significantly to greater than 90 percent.”
Screening for Prostate Cancer
“The tests for prostate cancer have come a long way,” Dr. Ronay said, “particularly in areas of who should be tested, at what age and who needs a biopsy.” Because there are genetic mutations linked to prostate cancer, genetic testing of the blood or urine may be helpful for some patients. Genetic testing looks at exosomes, which act as mediators in the transfer of genetic information between cells and play a role in the communication between cancer cells. This type of testing may help determine the need for biopsy and best treatment options.
The PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test screens for cancerous tissue in the prostate. “We know that the PSA levels can be falsely high due to sex or some medications,” Dr. Ronay said, “so I like to recommend repeating the test if someone has an elevated PSA. If the test results show that the PSA levels are still high, then the patient may need a biopsy.”
However, Dr. Ronay encourages patients to seek a second opinion from other urologists: “While there’s the risk of information overload when the patient gets more than one opinion, it’s better to have more information than not enough.” Dr. Ronay also emphasizes the importance of having the patient’s spouse or significant other present during the office visit and meetings with the specialists to ask questions and assimilate information.
Dr. Ronay stresses the importance of urologists working closely with the other specialists involved in diagnosing and treating prostate cancer, including the pathologist, radiologist and radiation oncologist.
“When examining the biopsy tissue under the microscope, the pathologist can include the urologist, who can then share the patient’s medical history. The pathologist uses a microscope with a camera to send images to a video monitor, allowing both specialists to view the prostate biopsy slides at the same time over the internet. Urologists should also have a good relationship with the radiologists who perform the MRI that may help identify prostate cancer. Communication between the urologist and radiation oncologist is also critical as it helps define the treatment plan.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused delays in prostate screenings. “Fortunately,” Dr. Ronay said, “there are telehealth options now available to our patients.”
And so, now that you know what to expect and have several options for testing, there’s no excuse to skip your prostate screening.
More than a thousand men and women diagnosed with cancer each year turn to our trusted team of cancer specialists at Tampa Bay Radiation Oncology and Urology. We encourage you to call us, ask us a question or consult with us to get a second opinion so you, too, can experience the difference and get the best possible care.