Prostate Cancer Cases Pittsburgh – Prostate Cancer is currently the leading cancer diagnosis and the second-most-common cause of cancer-related death among men in the United States. Fortunately, since the 1990’s, screening tests and superior therapies have produced a steady decline in the mortality and morbidity caused by this disease. Hopefully, these new developments will yield better ways of detecting and treating the cancer in the future.
Approximately 75 per cent of newly identified Prostate Cancers are discovered in men older than 65. This does not mean that younger men do not develop the disease. In the last few decades, the incidence of cancer in men between the ages of 50 and 59 has significantly increased.
Certain men are at an increased risk for developing this type of cancer. Heredity plays a significant role in the development of this disease. African-Americans and men possessing a first-degree relative with Prostate Cancer have a two-fold increased risk of developing the cancer. Men with two or three affected first-degree relatives have between a 5 and 10-fold increased risk. Dietary and environmental factors also affect an individual’s prostate cancer risk. Studies suggest that excessive fat consumption may play a role in the pathogenesis of this disease.
The cancer often produces symptoms which, when present, should prompt physicians to evaluate patients for this disease. Symptoms produced by early Prostate Cancer include difficulty upon starting urination, a less forceful urine stream, getting up at night to urinate, and blood in a patient’s urine. Men who develop these symptoms should consult their physicians about these problems.
Screening remains the best available means of diagnosing the cancer while the disease is still curable. (Once the cancer has spread beyond the prostate gland, it can be far more difficult to eradicate.) Two methods are usually employed in screening for prostate cancer: digital rectal examination and prostate specific antigen (PSA) testing.
In a digital rectal exam, a physician inserts his or her examining finger through the patient’s rectum and palpates the patient’s prostate gland. Prostate abnormalities can frequently be detected by the examining finger. If an abnormality is detected, the physician must further evaluate the patient’s prostate gland to rule out cancer. Tests that can aid in diagnosis include PSA testing, radiographic imaging of the prostate gland, and ultrasound-guided biopsies (in which tissue is removed from the gland and sent to pathologists for review). Using these diagnostic modalities, both pre-cancerous and cancerous lesions can be detected. When cancer cells remain confined to the prostate, treatment (usually consisting of radiation therapy or radical surgery) can effect a cure.
In contrast to digital rectal examination, PSA testing involves the measurement of the amount of “prostate specific antigen” (PSA) in a blood sample taken from the patient. “PSA” is produced by the prostate gland. Serum PSA levels generally rise when the gland becomes enlarged or otherwise diseased (as it does when the prostate gland becomes cancerous). Studies have shown that routine PSA measurement can detect many cases of Prostate Cancer long before the cancer produces symptoms. Studies have shown that PSA screening is superior to digital rectal examination in the detection of occult Prostate Cancer. (PSA testing is also employed to supplement information obtained on a digital rectal examination). Although an elevated PSA level does not mean that a given individual has Prostate Cancer, it suggests that the patient may have cancer and therefore warrants further investigation. Clinical studies have shown that the most effective method for the detection of the cancer in its earliest stage involves the combined use of digital rectal exam and PSA testing.
Unfortunately, physicians not infrequently overlook and fail to diagnose this type of cancer: often by failing to screen for the disease, or by failing to further evaluate a patient with an elevated PSA. If you or someone you love suffers from this type of cancer, and you feel you may have been a victim of medical error, please call our office for a free consultation. Our attorneys have successfully litigated many claims against physicians for failing to detect, diagnose, and treat the Cancer in a timely fashion.