In celebration of Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, Sentara Halifax Regional, in conjunction with Christi Hughart, D.O., FACOS, will be sponsoring a free prostate cancer screen on Sept. 25. This free screening will include a PSA blood test and a prostate exam.

Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer among men, and unfortunately, prostate cancer mortality has risen in recent years. Prostate cancer, when detected early is treatable for a cure. If detected in a later stage, it is more difficult to control, making routine early screening important. There are often no signs of prostate cancer until it is in more advanced stages. These late symptoms are difficulty urinating and pelvic or bone pain.

A health care provider will perform two tests to screen persons for prostate cancer: a prostate exam and a PSA blood test. If abnormalities of the PSA blood test or the prostate exam are found, a urologist may recommend a prostate biopsy. The prostate biopsy is a procedure that can be done with medication to numb the prostate in an office setting. The biopsy will show if cancer is present and will allow the provider to determine the best treatment for the individual patient.

Treatment options include active surveillance, radiation, surgery and hormonal therapy if the cancer is more advanced. Active surveillance is used for early stage prostate cancers. This entails following the prostate cancer with more frequent PSAs and repeat biopsies at a given intervals of time to make sure the cancer has not advanced. If prostate cancer is found to be worsening during active surveillance, radiation or surgery will be recommended.

In radiation therapy, high-power energy is used to kill prostate cancer cells. Surgery, a prostatectomy, is a procedure that surgically removes the prostate. Typically, this is done robotically with small incisions and requires a very short hospital stay. Hormonal therapy in the form of a shot may be used to enhance radiation treatment or may be used if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

“It is important to try to prevent prostate cancer starting in the early years with adopting a healthy lifestyle of a diet full of fruits and vegetables and regular exercise with weight control,” said Dr. Hughart. “Unfortunately, there is a strong hereditary component to prostate cancer, so regardless of these measures, screening is important.”