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The Key to Prostate Cancer Survival

Aug 29, 2016 04:34PM ● By Elena Hutslar
By Dr. Stephen Taylor, Urologist

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer diagnosis and the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States for men. Early detection is one of the most effective methods for getting the upper hand. I encourage patients to begin discussion with their physician when they turn 40. If you are African-American or have a relative who’s had prostate cancer, you are at a higher risk and should consult with your doctor to determine screening frequency.

 As with most types of urologic cancer, there are often no obvious symptoms, making early detection even more critical. However, those experiencing urinary pain, discomfort, or change in frequency should see a doctor immediately.

There are two primary diagnostic tests for prostate cancer. Doctors often perform a digital rectal examination to feel for abnormalities in the prostate gland. If the prostate is normal, it will be soft like a sponge. An abnormal prostate will be hard like a marble and require further testing.   

The second test is a blood test. Having an elevated PSA (prostate-specific antigen) in your blood does not necessarily indicate you will develop prostate cancer, however, it may lead to further diagnostic tests or a more regular screening schedule.

Just a few short years ago, if a PSA test was elevated and/or a nodule was present on the prostate, doctors would immediately proceed to a biopsy. Today, elevated PSA levels or the presence of nodules may result in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the prostate, which is highly reliable (90% accurate) and eliminates roughly 60% of unnecessary biopsies.

Prostate cancer is by no means a death sentence. Thanks to effective, minimally invasive treatment options, men with prostate cancer are living longer, healthier lives, with fewer treatment-related side effects to either their urinary or sexual functionality.

Diagnosing prostate cancer in its earliest stages is imperative. Consult with your doctor, get the facts, and make the most informed decision about your personal course of action.

Dr.Taylor is a board certified urologist with Pacific Urology. He is involved with the Prostate Cancer Center of Excellence at Diablo Valley Oncology in Pleasant Hill. For more information, call 925-937-7740 or visit

Join Dr.Taylor and other prostate cancer specialists for an educational seminar: The Many Faces of Prostate Cancer on September 29, 6:30-8:30pm, Lafayette Library and Learning Center. To reserve, please call 925-677-5041x272.