Screening for prostate cancer has ignited a firestorm about who to test, when and what it means. But cancer navigator Laurie Wise believes any conversation is good.
“What that does for patients is stimulates them to go to their physician and have the conversation with their physician, which is the most important thing,” says Laurie Wise, a cancer navigator with Lee Memorial Health System.
The go-to in screening is the PSA, which measures a protein, prostate specific antigen.
“It’s very simple. It’s a blood test, then a digital rectal exam,” says Wise.
Here’s the tricky part: new federal recommendations state low risk men don’t need routine PSA’s because it may lead to unnecessary biopsies or treatment. Something many health professionals take exception with.
While many people think of prostate cancer as a slow growing disease, it can also be aggressive. That’s why it’s the top cancer killer of men over 75.
“There’s been this perception that prostate cancer’s not dangerous, it’s a slow growing tumor, you’ll die with it not from it. You don’t hear anybody saying that about lung cancer or colon cancer, but more men are dying from prostate cancer than either one of them right now,” says Dr. Richard Evans, a board certified urologist with Lee Memorial Health System.
Doctors often stand by previous guidelines, that men should get a baseline at age 50.
“Each person needs to be looked at individually and assessments need to be made and judgments need to be made by people who are qualified,” says Dr. Evans.
For Wise, it’s a no-brainer. She facilitates support services for men with advanced disease. Anything to detect cancer early has her support.
“Absolutely. Screening really does change lives and saves lives,” says Wise.