Prostate Screenings Save Lives

With children and grandchildren squared away back at school, there is a little more time for older adults to take time for some self-care.  For those who may have put off uncomfortable health screenings due to the pandemic, it’s high time to book a mammogram, colonoscopy, or prostate cancer screening.  September is Prostate Cancer Awareness month, and men are encouraged to discuss any urinary issues with their doctor, as it can be an early sign of cancer. 

According to the McMaster Optimal Aging Portal, is estimated that in Canada, 1 in 9 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime.  It is the most frequently diagnosed non-skin cancer and the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men.  As men age, about a quarter will experience urinary problems.  Most often, these issues are caused by an enlarged prostate that obstructs the bladder but difficulty urinating, frequent urination, or getting up often at night to urinate may be associated with cancer. 

Talking with your doctor about symptoms and discussing testing and treatment options is a good place to start when deciding whether or not to screen with a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test.  If caught early, the five-year survival rate for males with prostate cancer is nearly 100 percent compared with 30 percent if detected at a more advanced stage.   However, experts disagree about whether the risks associated with the PSA test outweigh the benefits.  

False positive results, unnecessary biopsies, and complications from tests are some of the arguments against PSA tests.  In men without symptoms of prostate cancer, PSA screening may or may not reduce prostate cancer mortality.   Different people will have different symptoms.  Some men have no symptoms at all.   Talk with your doctor immediately if you have any of these symptoms, but keep in mind they may be caused by another condition other than prostate cancer. 

Symptoms of Prostate Cancer

  • Difficulty starting urination.
  • Weak or interrupted flow of urine.
  • Urinating often, especially at night.
  • Trouble emptying the bladder completely.
  • Pain or burning during urination.
  • Blood in the urine or semen.
  • Pain in the back, hips, or pelvis that doesn’t go away.
  • Painful ejaculation.

Source:  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Learn more about the potential harms and benefits of PSA screening by following this link to the Canadian Task Force on Preventative Health Care Prostate Cancer Screening Recommendations.