Dr. Hak Lee with a patient

Dr. Hak Lee talks to a patient.

While it largely develops in older men, prostate cancer can happen at any age. In fact, it’s the second cause of cancer death among men. Although that’s a startling statistic, the good news is that most men diagnosed with prostate cancer, especially in its early stages, can survive it.

“Detecting prostate cancer early is extremely important,” said Hak Lee, MD, of AdventHealth Medical Group Urology at Calhoun. “When caught early, it is one of the most treatable cancers.”

When to consider prostate cancer screening

Although the medical community is not in full agreement regarding PSA as a screening test for prostate cancer, it’s ultimately up to you and your primary care physician to talk about your prostate cancer risk and to create a screening plan that’s right for you.

Since prostate cancer usually doesn’t cause noticeable symptoms, especially in early stages, the American Urological Association offers suggestions on when conversations about prostate cancer screening should begin as a general rule. But in the event you do experience any of these symptoms, you should talk with your doctor right away:

♦ Back pain

♦ Blood in your urine

♦ Changes in your urine flow or frequency

♦ Pain while urinating

♦ Pelvic pain

The American Urological Association recommends when no symptoms are present, you should talk with your doctor about prostate cancer screening at:

♦ Age 40 for men at high risk (family history of prostate cancer, especially more than one close relative)

♦ Age 45 for men at high risk (African-American men or those with one close relative with prostate cancer)

♦ Age 50 for men at average risk

Prostate cancer screening tests

There are a number of tests available to help detect prostate cancer, including: Digital rectal exam, a physical examination where your doctor will check your prostate for lumps or anything unusual; and a prostate-specific antigen test. This test measures the level of PSA, or prostate-specific antigen, in your blood. While a high PSA level can indicate prostate cancer, it doesn’t always mean you have it. An increased PSA level can also be a sign of infection, inflammation or an enlarged prostate.

Since the PSA test is non-invasive, it’s a great place to start. If your PSA level is high, you and your doctor can decide what further tests are needed.

Prostate cancer treatment

Men facing a diagnosis of prostate cancer can choose among treatment options that address the state of the disease, which can range from surveillance to surgery and radiation therapy (external and brachytherapy).

At AdventHealth Gordon, men who choose to undergo radiation therapy for prostate cancer also have the pre-treatment option of utilizing SpaceOAR Hydrogel – a spacer used to help lessen the radiation dose delivered to the rectum. SpaceOAR Hydrogel is used to reduce rectal complications and help patients maintain their quality of life after radiation treatment.

Due to the proximity of the prostate to the rectum, radiation therapy can cause damage to the rectum during treatment. This can lead to long-lasting side effects such as fecal incontinence issues. SpaceOAR Hydrogel is an absorbable gel inserted during a minimally invasive procedure that creates a temporary space between the prostate and the rectum. This allows the doctor to complement the patient’s radiation treatment to better target their cancer while preserving healthy tissue. The hydrogel spacer remains in place for about three months, and after about six months, the hydrogel is naturally absorbed and cleared from the body in the patient’s urine.

“Men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer may have some difficult decisions to make when it comes to treatment, but hopefully having an option like SpaceOAR Hydrogel will help patients when they decide radiotherapy,” said Lee.

AdventHealth Gordon also uses surgical advancements, like the state-of-the-art da Vinci robot, to treat prostate cancer. Robotic procedures used for prostate cancer include robotic radical prostatectomy, robotic nerve sparing prostatectomy and robotic pelvic lymph node dissection.

Robotic-assisted surgery provides surgeons with 3D vision that magnifies the surgical field up to 10 times and gives them a more detailed 3D view of the operating site than the human eye can provide. Robotically, the surgeons utilize instrumentation that mimics the movement of human hands, wrists, and fingers. This gives the surgeon more precise control than laparoscopic tools. Benefits of robotic surgery include:

♦ Less blood loss

♦ Shorter hospital stay

♦ Less pain and reduced use of pain medication

♦ Quicker return to normal daily routines

♦ Faster recovery

♦ Lower risk of infections and complications

For more information, call 706-879-4700 or visit AdventHealthGordon.com/urology.

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