September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

September ushers in cooler temperatures and rich fall colors but it’s also a good time to schedule regular health and wellness check-ups when routines return to normal after the busy summer months.   Men are often the most reluctant to make time for regular doctor appointments but prevention and early diagnosis can help save and extend the lives of older adults. 

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness month and in Canada, nearly 1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime.  But with better testing and treatment options, the death rate from this cancer is in significant decline.

There is much debate however about prostate cancer testing and Canada’s Task Force on Preventative Health Care has taken the position that it does not recommend using PSA (prostate-specific antigen) testing to screen for prostate cancer.  The task force has concluded that the harms, such as bleeding and infection, greatly outweigh the benefits of testing.   The PSA test can also be unreliable; false positive results are common and may cause unnecessary stress, fear and worry.  Because most cases of prostate cancer progress slowly, some experts believe that with a 95 per cent 10-year estimated survival rate, many men can live with prostate cancer free of symptoms for numerous years.

Not all experts agree about PSA screening.  Prostate Cancer Canada holds that PSA screening benefits are greater than it’s risks and without it, prostate cancer deaths would increase.  Until better screening tests are available, deciding whether or not to have screening is left up to the individual and should be discussed thoroughly with one’s doctor. 

To help weigh the pros and cons of screening, the College des medecins du Quebec has developed an informational guide to give men a better understanding of the controversial issue of PSA screening.  To read the leaflet online follow this link

Although there is no sure way to prevent prostate cancer, a healthy diet, regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight may help men reduce their risk.