BALTIMORE — The most common cancer in men next to skin cancer is prostate cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society a man's chances of being diagnosed with prostate cancer increase with age.
Few men enjoy going to a doctor and the last thing any man wants to hear is they have cancer.
The director of Urologic Oncology at the University of Maryland Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center, Dr. Minhaj Siddiqui said “when they hear cancer like the C-word, right, whether they say it or not they’re typically thinking about death. Like, am I gonna die from this. Not everyone verbalizes it. They’re almost afraid to verbalize it sometimes.”
Much of Dr. Siddiqui's work involves treating men who've been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
“This is a cancer the tends to hit people in their 50s and 60s. It’s also the first real major diagnosis that you know, significant diagnosis that a man will face. I mean, often men have kind of been diagnosed with blood pressure or cholesterol issues or what not. Those feel like kind of chronic issues but to be told that you have cancer is sometimes coming to grips with a more significant diagnosis,” Dr. Siddiqui said.
Screening for prostate cancer rarely requires an invasive rectal exam -- rather it usually involves something called a PsA (prostate-specific antigen) blood test.
“Prostate cancer when caught early has no warning signs and that’s very important to know. That’s why that’s why having a discussion actually, typically with your primary care doctor, about screening for prostate cancer, screening by definition means that you’re looking for it without having any signs of it,” Dr. Siddiqui said.
While prostate is cancer is the most common cancer found in men, it's not the most common cause of death from cancer.
“It’s the most common cancer in men, but 90% of men who were diagnosed with prostate cancer will die of other causes,” Dr. Siddiqui said.
Managing prostate cancer often calls for “active surveillance,” as in actively watching the progress of the cancer to make sure that it's not getting more aggressive. It means having regular doctor visits, blood tests, MRI’s, and a genetic study.
“Most people can actually, avoid treatment. Even if you do need treatment, you end up delaying the treatment. Treatments are effective, but they do have side effects. They have urinary and sexual side effects. So, if you can delay the onset of your new sexual side effects, then you know it’s just that much better for you,” Dr. Siddiqui said.
The American Cancer Society reports most prostate cancer is found in men over 65 years old. It also hits men of African ancestry more than men of any other race. Having a relative with prostate cancer also increases risks for the disease. However, as Dr. Siddiqui recommends, getting screened for prostate cancer is a shared decision between a man and his doctor.
“I try to calm people down. I try to tell them, look you know, it’s kind of the privilege of being a urologic cancer specialist is, the cancers I treat tend to have actually pretty good outcomes,” Dr. Siddiqui said.
More information can be found at the University of Maryland Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center, and the American Cancer Society.