Q&A: Prostate cancer
What men need to know
Prostate cancer usually grows slowly—and most men with the disease won’t die from it. Even so, before the year ends, it’s expected to claim roughly 28,000 lives nationwide.
Richard H. Charney, MD, a urologist at Nazareth Hospital, answers three crucial questions about detecting and treating prostate cancer.
Why is the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test controversial?
It can be a lifesaver for some men by detecting cancer that needs to be treated. But it can also detect cancer that would never cause problems. This means some men might have unnecessary biopsies or treatments.
What’s your opinion about PSA testing?
Like most urologists, I advise men to talk to their doctors about the pros and cons of testing and then make a decision that makes sense to them. But if you have a family history of prostate cancer—for example, if your father or a brother developed it—the test is in your best interest. In that case, you should get regular PSA tests and digital rectal exams starting at age 40.
What should men know about treatment for prostate cancer?
Treatment—such as radiation therapy or surgery—is often highly successful, especially when cancer hasn’t spread beyond the prostate gland. But since prostate cancer often grows so slowly, some men may not need treatment, just close monitoring. That’s particularly true for older men and those with serious health problems. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to treatment. If you learn you have prostate cancer, you need to carefully consider all your options with your doctor.
Getting to know you
Name: Richard H. Charney, MD
Specialty: Board certified in urology
Medical school: Jefferson Medical College
Internship and residency: York General Hospital, Abington Memorial Hospital and Albert Einstein Medical Center