Treating the Most Common Cancer in Men
February 17, 2022
When Graham, 64, first learned he had elevated PSA levels in his blood, he wasn’t concerned. PSAs are “prostate-specific antigens” made by the prostate gland that sometimes indicate cancer. Graham’s wife June, however, was concerned. She’s a nurse at Overlake and wanted Graham to see a specialist in prostate cancer at the Overlake Cancer Center. Graham made an appointment and subsequently underwent a biopsy that showed he had cancer.
Graham is not alone. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men. In fact, one out of eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in their life. It is more common later in life, with the average age of those diagnosed being 66.
Most of the time, like Graham, men experience no symptoms and do not know they have prostate cancer until it’s confirmed by diagnostic procedures. However, early symptoms may include frequency or urgency of urination, frequent nighttime urination, or blood in the urine.
"It’s important not to ignore symptoms, even if you feel well otherwise, and to be screened," says James Kriseman, DO, a family medicine physician with Overlake Clinics Primary Care – Redmond. That’s why having an established relationship with a primary care provider is important. They can help you stay on top of your health appointments and screenings. It’s advised to begin prostate cancer screenings at age 50 if you have average risk, but it’s best to talk with your provider. They will discuss your and your family’s medical history to determine when you should start getting screened.
Advanced Diagnostics and Treatments
Elevated PSA levels, however, don’t necessarily equal cancer. Other conditions like urinary tract infections or an enlarged prostate might affect PSA levels, that’s why additional diagnostics are needed to confirm if cancer is present.
If PSA levels are elevated, Overlake uses the most advanced diagnostic techniques. If a cancer diagnosis is made, your provider will discuss treatment options with you based on how aggressive the cancer might be.
Khanh Pham, MD, a urologist with Overlake Clinics – Urology who is fellowship-trained in urologic oncology, says two-thirds of prostate cancers are slow growing, while the other third can be aggressive.
“We encourage men to seek care from well-trained urologists who can help decide whether someone needs to be treated with surgery or radiation therapy or whether they can take a ‘watch-and-wait’ approach,” says Dr. Pham. “We ensure that the right treatment is chosen for the right patient.”
In Graham’s case, he discussed options with his provider and ultimately decided he wanted a robotic prostatectomy to remove the prostate gland along with the cancer.
“I’ve lost people close to me to cancer,” he says. “It was important to me not to take a chance that my prostate cancer would develop into something more serious.”
Collaborative and Comprehensive Care
At the Overlake Cancer Center, our multidisciplinary teams work in partnership with Seattle Cancer Care Alliance to offer comprehensive services to treat prostate and other cancers affecting men.
“Our patients are at the center of all we do, and we’ve developed a program to ensure every patient’s needs are seamlessly supported during the course of treatment and beyond,” says Dr. Pham.
The nurse navigator is a key element to this seamless experience. As a patient’s primary point of contact, our dedicated oncology nurse navigator coordinates care and provides education from diagnosis to survivorship. In addition to arranging appointments, the nurse navigator helps patients connect with resources for financial and insurance concerns, and other supportive care services, including physical therapy, nutrition, support groups and counseling.
The entire team works in concert to ensure each patient, like Graham, has the best outcome possible. Graham now has regular follow-up visits with Overlake providers, and every checkup has shown him to be cancer-free.
At Overlake, we provide internal medicine and primary care services focused on men’s health and wellness. This focus includes annual exams, health screenings and effective coordination of any specialty care you may need—from urologic health to cardiac services and digestive care.
It’s time to move your health to the top of your list and set up an appointment today.
Learn more at overlakehospital.org/menshealth.