Urologist says screening for prostate cancer should start at 40 years old
With symptoms of prostate cancer being harder to detect in young men, Dr Rajendra Sukhraj, a urologist at the Georgetown Public Hospital, is recommending that screening should be done when a man hits 40-years-old, five years below the age most countries encourage screening.
Dr Sukhraj on Friday told the News Room that this is because Guyana has a lot of undetected cases. Early screening gives access to faster treatment, he said.
“Mostly it occurs in men in their sixties and usually in the early stages; prostate cancer doesn’t have any symptoms, so there usually isn’t any urinary symptoms.
“So by the time you start having symptoms, it’s already advanced,” Dr Sukraj said.
The Mayo Clinic states that prostate cancer occurs in the prostate, a small walnut-shaped gland in males that produces the seminal fluid that nourishes and transports sperm.
Dr Sukraj noted that most countries start screening when men are 45-years-old and older, but in Guyana, men can get screened from as young as 40. The tests for screening include blood sampling called a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test. This test measures the level of PSA in the blood. PSA is a substance made by the prostate. The levels of PSA in the blood can be higher in men who have prostate cancer.
A range of treatment options are available for prostate cancer and at the GPHC. Surgery is used when the cancer is localized, meaning in the prostate alone. Radiation is another treatment that is offered at the Cancer Institute.
Further, the doctor noted that cancer is genetic and therefore persons who have relatives with prostate cancer should get checked. Men of African descent are also at a higher risk but he warned that all men are at risk of developing prostate cancer.
“We see a lot of aggressive prostate cancer disease in our men, especially those who are from African ancestry. This is not suggesting that men of other ethnicities are exempt by any means.”
“Because of the high risk factor in Caribbean men, we encourage screening from the age of 40 but we have a higher risk of the disease,” Dr Sukhraj said, adding that, “If we catch it early we can offer a cure but if you come in the late stages, we can suppress it but we cannot offer you a cure.”
The most common risk factor for prostate cancer is age. However, diet and lifestyle changes can help to reduce a man’s chances of developing prostate cancer.