More cases of advanced prostate cancer diagnosed in rural areas

Carle physicians want men to get screened for prostate cancer. Doctors are seeing more cases of advanced prostate cancer in rural counties surrounding Champaign County.

The numbers are sobering:

• In Champaign County, 8 percent of prostate cancers are diagnosed in advanced stages.
• In the surrounding counties (Vermilion, Coles, Douglas, Edgar, Piatt and Ford), 15 percent of prostate cancers are diagnosed in advanced stages.

“Many, if not most, of these men could have had a better chance of a cancer cure had the cancer been detected earlier,” said Magesh Sundaram, MD, medical director of Carle Cancer Center.

“That’s why men over the age of 50 should discuss prostate cancer screening with their doctor.”

Dr. Sundaram says it is a myth that men will die of something else and don’t need to worry about prostate cancer. 

“There are 25 types of prostate cancer, and some are very aggressive, spread rapidly and can be fatal. A biopsy can help the doctor determine what type of prostate cancer is present and then recommend a course of treatment based on a patient’s age and overall health,” he said.

Prostate cancer can be detected two ways: a blood test that measures PSA – a prostate-specific antigen – and a digital rectal exam (DRE).

While some may be concerned about such exams, physicians say just 10 seconds could lead to a longer, healthier life.

“The manual screening is quick and has minimal discomfort. This 10-second-a-year exam could save your life,” said Glen Yang, MD, urologist at Carle.

Another reason men may not want to deal with prostate cancer is sometimes treatments can cause side effects such as urinary incontinence or erectile dysfunction. Again, Dr. Yang says treatment has come a long way.

“At Carle, we use state-of-the-art treatments for prostate cancer, including hormonal therapy, surgery, and radiation. New techniques, such as robotic surgery, are now more precise and less invasive. If there are side effects, we have aids and therapies to address them,” Dr. Yang said.

“Men need to seriously consider if the risks of side effects outweigh the possibility for more quality years to enjoy life, family and friends,” Dr. Yang added.

What’s the first step in detecting prostate cancer? Men should talk to their primary care physician about their family’s cancer history along with any prostate cancer questions, symptoms, or concerns.

“Do not let fear of cancer or fear of being embarrassed stop you from a prostate exam. Prostate cancer can be curable – if caught in time,” Dr. Sundaram concluded.