Dr. Aragon-Ching serves as the Clinical Program Director of Genitourinary Cancers within the Inova Dwight and Martha Schar Cancer Institute. Schedule an appointment or learn more about Dr. Aragon-Ching.
Prostate Cancer Awareness Month
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer, apart from skin cancer, that occurs among American men. In 2015 alone, a projected 220,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. September has traditionally been coined as the National Prostate Cancer Awareness month by the American Cancer Society. Varying other groups such as the Prostate Cancer Foundation, has advocated for “Movember”, a global charity movement fostering a movement to advocate for prostate cancer funding.
Screening for prostate cancer
While prostate cancer screening with the use of the blood test called PSA (short for prostate specific antigen) has been surrounded with much controversy in the recent years especially with the recommendation set forth by the United States Preventive Services Task Force that recommended against PSA screening, it’s still very important to talk about PSA screening between a patient and his doctor. There are some men with high risk for developing the disease such as those with personal family histories and certainly those with symptoms that would warrant a check-up and PSA screening by their doctor. Oftentimes, it is not the actual PSA screening, but rather the overtreatment that may come with the prostate cancer diagnosis, that has resulted in increasing scrutiny of the practice of PSA screening.
Prostate cancer diagnosis: the next steps
Hearing a diagnosis of prostate cancer is a life-altering event. Discussion about diagnosis and treatment can sometimes be daunting and confusing. The vast majority of prostate cancer that is diagnosed though is in the early stages and can be cured, or sometimes not even have to be treated in the short term, in an approach we would call “active surveillance”. However, determining which cancers we can “watch” and which ones we have to actively treat is important, so we may not miss the opportunity to treat those who need to be treated and spare toxicity or side-effects for those who can be safely monitored. On the other hand, continued support and offering a multiple array of treatment or clinical trial options would empower men who have more advanced disease at presentation.
Surviving prostate cancer
The whole spectrum of prostate cancer care involves not only the moment when the PSA is checked and the prostate biopsy is done, but when the imaging tests are ordered and active treatment is rendered. Discussion of side-effects and how we can best help to alleviate these effects are also part and parcel of the care we deliver. To this end, myself and other colleagues have published the American Cancer Society (ACS) guidelines on the care of men with prostate cancer in response to the National Cancer Survivorship Resource Center’s recommendations to enhance the quality of follow-up care for men who have completed their initial treatment for prostate cancer.