PUBLISHED: 5:19 PM on Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Men: a 10-minute screening could prevent prostate cancer
Free screenings will be offered starting Sept. 16
Prostate cancer screenings are quick and easy - and they could save your life. A blood test and a manual exam, which only take ten minutes, can detect prostate disease in its early stages and increase treatment options.

About Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer occurs when cancerous or malignant cells form in the prostate (a male sex gland). Cancer that remains confined within the gland is considered localized. If the disease spreads outside the prostate, it most often moves into surrounding tissues or the seminal vesicles (sac-like structures attached to the prostate). Further spread of the cancer could involve the lymph nodes and other organs.

  Dr. Michael Singsaas
An annual PSA (prostate-specific antigen) blood test is critical for the diagnosis of prostate cancer now that physicians have lowered the standard levels that lead to further treatment.

PSAs measure protein levels in blood that increase with the development of cancer. Previously, a PSA level of 4 raised concern among physicians. Now, doctors keep a close eye on patients between 40 and 50 who test with a level of 2.5 or higher.

Prostate cancer can be cured if it is caught early enough, but it can be fatal if it is not, said Dr. Singsaas, of Alaska Urological Associates in Juneau.

Cancer is often caught by comparing test numbers each year, and a small rise can indicate a problem

The fear of having prostate cancer can be devastating to men. However, it is most successfully treated when found early. Consider these statistics from the American Cancer Society:

• Nearly 60 percent of all prostate cancers are discovered while they are still localized (confined to the prostate).

• If detected in the early stages, significantly improved cure rates can be obtained.

• In the past 20 years, the survival rate for all stages has risen due to early detection and treatment.

Early detection

Early prostate cancer may not present any symptoms and can only be found with regular prostate examinations. Don't let fear and anxiety keep you from having the tests you need. These tests can often detect or help rule out prostate cancer.

For the fifth consecutive year, Alaska Urological Associates is offering free prostate cancer screenings to men in the Juneau area.

After the tests, men who are found to have a normal PSA level are sent a letter stating the PSA number they have. Patients with an elevated rate of PSA are sent a letter and also telephoned to recommend a visit to their urologist or family physician.

So far, more than 500 men have taken part in the free screenings, with some needing further follow-up. This does not mean that surgery was required but in most cases it meant further explanation of the test results or more testing. The screening is quick and easily performed.

If detected in the early stages, significantly improved cure rates are attainable.

"The American Cancer Society recommends that men take the screenings from the age of 50 but high-risk males, who include African American men and those with a family history of prostate cancer, examinations should begin in their early 40's" Singsaas said.

Almost 200,000 men in America will be diagnosed as having prostate cancer this year.

Dr. Michael Singsaas, of Alaska Urological Associates, will be providing free prostate screenings on Sept. 16, 18 and 20. Appointments are required. Call 586-5656 for more information.