by Howard Korman, M.D., FACS, Medical Director of Beaumont’s Prostate Cancer and Urologic Cancer Multidisciplinary Clinic
This week, actor Ian McKellan (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, X-Men, Lord of the Rings) revealed that he’s been fighting prostate cancer for the past 6 or 7 years and California Gov. Jerry Brown recently announced he is being treated for early stage prostate cancer.
The media is abuzz with information and some misconceptions about prostate cancer. Though it’s true that prostate cancer may not be life threatening, there are still more than 1,000 men who die from prostate cancer in Michigan each year.
Because of prostate cancer screenings (PSA) for men age 50 to 70 (or 40 and above for African American men or men with a family history of prostate cancer), we’ve cut cancer death rates from 50% to just 10%. And with an emphasis on early detection, there’s a new focus on identifying patients who should be actively watched over time, a process known as Active Surveillance.
Men with low-volume tumors, men with a relatively low PSA and men who have early stage prostate cancer are all candidates for Active Surveillance, which watches the progression of a tumor so that the patient is offered treatment when the PSA, stage or grade of the tumor advances.
An added benefit of Active Surveillance is that it gives physicians and patients an opportunity to consider early interventions. For example, at Beaumont we are enrolling men in the MEAL Study – an opportunity to look at what types of foods can perhaps slow the advance of prostate cancer in men who are in Active Surveillance.
For men who require treatment for prostate cancer, at Beaumont we’re able to offer the most advanced treatment options available, from robotic surgery to the latest generation of radiation therapy to treat prostate cancer. And it’s all coordinated through our Multidisciplinary Prostate Cancer Clinic. With just one call to a nurse navigator, patients have access to a team of experts, including urologists, radiation and medical oncologists, who work together to provide patients with a personalized treatment recommendation.