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Wellness Wednesday: experts urge men to book cancer screenings

Posted at 8:11 AM, Jun 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-16 10:11:53-04

IDAHO — June marks Men's Health Month, encouraging all men to take action when it comes to their health.

This year holds extra importance as many people let their regular health screenings slide by because of the pandemic. That includes screenings or treatment for chronic conditions and diseases like cancer.

Prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in men, and unfortunately, there's been an alarming increase in prostate cancer cases nationally.

"Prostate cancer is extremely common all around the world. In the United States, we diagnose approximately 250,000 American men with prostate cancer," says Dr. Adam Schatz, a urologist with the Idaho Urologic Institute. "The American Cancer Society estimates in 2021, in Idaho alone, probably about 1,260 new patients are going to be diagnosed with prostate cancer."

Dr. Schatz says while prostate cancer is extremely common, most men with it will not die from it. In fact, if prostate cancer is found early, men typically have a 99% survival rate.

"Because of this, it's very important for us to screen large populations of men, find those men with clinically significant disease, and treat them early while preventing treatment that's unnecessary for those with not clinically significant disease."

When it comes to screening, Dr. Schatz says men should talk to their doctors first but there are a few factors that could mean you need an annual exam.

"Recommendations are generally that for men between ages 55 and 69, we should be talking to them at least annually about screening. That is with a rectal exam and with a PSA blood test," he says.

Younger men may need an annual exam if they fall into high-risk groups.

"Men with family members with significant cancers, those of African descent may want to get tested younger than age 55, and then once we get past age 69, we need to be looking at other lifestyle and risk factors."

There are some new options to look for prostate cancer, but screening with a blood test and a digital rectal exam is still the gold standard. Other high-risk groups that may need these exams annually include people with a history of prostate disease and military veterans.

For more about the Idaho Urologic Institute, click here.