A recent warning against using one of the most common tests for prostate cancer has left many men questioning the effectiveness and safety of the popular test.
Last May, The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended against using the prostate specific antigen (PSA) saying it offers "a very small potential benefit and significant potential harms." The recommendation has sparked debate among health professionals.
According to the most recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2008, nearly 215,000 men were diagnosed with the disease annually and more than 28,000 died from it. Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in men.
With September being national Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, Raza Khan, MD, a urologist at Advocate Condell Medical Center, says it's a good reminder for men to educate themselves on the issue so they can make the most informed decision possible regarding testing.
Dr. Khan says that patients need to consider a number of factors before having the screening.
"Men need to assess their individual risks including family history of cancer, whether or not they smoke, along with their age, race, and weight," he said. "This will help your doctor assess the risks and benefits of performing tests."
While knowledge of your health history can be critical to understanding your risks, Dr. Khan says it's also important for men to take control over their health habits.
"The best way to prevent prostate cancer is by minimizing exposure to excesses of toxic substances like alcohol and tobacco while also eating more whole foods," Dr. Khan said. "Adding regular physical activity and learning stress reduction techniques are essential too."
Click here to watch a brief video of Dr. Raza Khan discussing what all men should know about prostate cancer and prostate health. You can also copy/paste this link into your web browser: http://youtu.be/zW5uHEa3o2k