“Prostate cancer has been a bit ignored in terms of screening. That's why the death rate from prostate cancer has not dropped, as it did, for example, with colorectal cancer. With these numbers, prostate cancer is an important pathology that deserves our full attention”, said Dr. Tiago Rodrigues, urologist at the HPA Health Group.
After lung cancer, prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths. In Europe, it is diagnosed in about 400,000 men a year and causes the death of about 90,000 to 95,000 men a year.
Despite efforts to promote prostate cancer screening, including the famous Movember campaign, there are still many men around the world dying from this disease and the only way to combat this trend is through early screening.
“Prostate cancer is a problem that was on the table before the start of the pandemic, there were even lobbying committees within the EU” to promote screening. However, there is still a long way to go.
Furthermore, in populations with less health literacy, "there are still many people who have this mindset that when a man goes to the urologist for a rectal exam, he loses his manhood or may end up with incontinence, but none of this is true", said the doctor.
To combat this general misunderstanding, Dr. Tiago thinks the message must come from above – from decision makers. However, it hasn’t been done because, even in the medical community, doctors don't speak with a single voice when it comes to prostate cancer screening.
For example, in 2012, a task force was created in the United States to assess the impact of Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) screening, which ended up issuing an opinion against performing PSA in asymptomatic patients. This had to do with the fact that at that time there were many patients undergoing surgeries that caused some side effects in patients who would never have problems with prostate cancer because that cancer takes 15 or 20 years to become a source of struggle. “If the patient is 85 years old and is at an early stage of the disease, he will likely not die from the cancer”, he explained.
However, this decision by the US had serious consequences at the time, as death rates soared. "It was an extreme recommendation and what happened was that in the following years, for the first time in history since the beginning of PSA and the early screening of prostate cancer, the mortality curve started to increase in the United States."
However, overtreatment cannot be fought with fewer diagnoses, as physicians can only “make a good choice if they have all the information about the patient's clinical condition at their disposal”.
Schedule a prostate cancer screening
Diagnosis for prostate cancer is made through PSA and rectal screening and is recommended for all men over 50 years of age. However, in cases of increased risk, such as in black men or first-degree relatives with cancer, screening must be done after 40 years of age.
The possibility of developing prostate cancer increases with age and, in most cases, prostate cancers appears over 65 years old, with symptoms being urinary problems, such as: difficulty in urinating or difficulty in starting or stopping the flow urine, a frequent need to urinate, especially at night. However, it should not be confused with other prostate diseases whose symptoms may be similar in some cases.
Please, this November, don't ignore the importance of being screened! At the HPA Health Group, you can make an appointment with the best experts who will guide you in the approach that is best for you.
Paula Martins is a fully qualified journalist, who finds writing a means of self-expression. She studied Journalism and Communication at University of Coimbra and recently Law in the Algarve. Press card: 8252