Posted: Thursday, September 19, 2019

The Risks of Prostate Cancer Screening

In recognition of National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, Blount Memorial Hospital is hosting free prostate cancer screenings throughout the month of September at the CareToday Clinic at East Tennessee Medical Group, located at 266 Joule St. in Alcoa.

More than 29,000 men in the United States die from prostate cancer every year. The disease is the second-leading cause of cancer death (lung cancer is No. 1) among white, black and Hispanic men in the United States. If diagnosed early, however, the five-year survival rate for prostate cancer is almost 100 percent.

If you’re a man age 40 or older, or are a younger man with a family history of prostate cancer, take advantage of this free screening opportunity. The PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test is a simple blood draw, and the entire screening takes less than 15 minutes.

However, decisions about screening tests can be difficult. Not all screening tests are helpful, and most have risks. Before having any screening test, you may want to discuss the test with your doctor. It is important to know the risks of the test and whether it has been proven to reduce the risk of dying from cancer.

As outlined by the National Cancer Institute, these are some of the risks of prostate screening:

  • Finding prostate cancer may not improve health or help a man live longer. Screening may not improve your health or help you live longer if you have cancer that has already spread to the area outside of the prostate or to other places in your body.
  • Some cancers never cause symptoms or become life-threatening, but if found by a screening test, the cancer may be treated. Finding these cancers is called overdiagnosis. It is not known if treatment of these cancers would help you live longer than if no treatments were given.
  • Treatments for prostate cancer, such as radical prostatectomy and radiation therapy, may have long-term side effects in many men. The most common side effects are erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence.
  • Some studies of patients with newly diagnosed prostate cancer showed these patients had a higher risk of death from cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel) disease or suicide. The risk was greatest in the first weeks or months after diagnosis.

Follow-up tests, too, such as a biopsy, may be done to diagnose cancer. If a PSA test is higher than normal, a biopsy of the prostate may be done. Complications from a biopsy of the prostate may include fever, pain, blood in the urine or semen, and urinary tract infection. Even if a biopsy shows that a patient does not have prostate cancer, he may worry more about developing prostate cancer in the future.

False-negative test results can occur, as well. Screening test results may appear to be normal even though prostate cancer is present. A man who receives a false-negative test result (one that shows there is no cancer when there really is) may delay seeking medical care even if he has symptoms.

False-positive test results also can occur. Screening test results may appear to be abnormal even though no cancer is present. A false-positive test result (one that shows there is cancer when there really isn't) can cause anxiety and is usually followed by more tests, (such as biopsy) which also have risks.

There is no fee for Blount Memorial’s prostate cancer screening and no insurance will be billed, however, registration is required. Remaining appointments are available Wednesday, Sept. 25 from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.; and Saturday, Sept. 28 from 9-11 a.m. To reserve a test time, click here, or call 865-984-3864 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.


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