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Screening and Treating Prostate Cancer OHC

Screening and Treating Prostate Cancer

OHC, Blogs, Diseases, 0 comments
August 27, 2014

Grass Jeffrey MD OHC Radiation Oncologist

Dr. Jeffrey Grass, OHC radiation oncologist, specializes in the treatment of prostate cancer.

September is National Prostate Awareness Month. And with one in every five men developing prostate cancer in their lifetime, there’s a lot to be aware of.

According to the National Cancer Institute, there are 233,000 new cases of prostate cancer every year and 29,840 deaths from the disease. Although it rarely occurs in men under 40, the risk of developing it increases significantly in men 50 and older. It is even more prevalent in African American males.

Common symptoms to watch out for include:

• A need to urinate frequently, especially at night
• Difficulty starting urination or holding back urine
• Weak or interrupted flow of urine
• Painful or burning urination
• Difficulty in having an erection
• Painful ejaculation
• Blood in urine or blood in semen

So why does the risk of prostate cancer go up as men age? According to OHC Radiation Oncologist Jeffrey Grass, MD, exposure to certain hormones over time is one possibility. “Much like decades of estrogen exposure predisposes women to breast cancer, decades of testosterone exposure causes prostate cancer in men.”

Prostate cancer tends to run in families, and having a brother, father, or son who has (or has had) the disease greatly increases a man’s risk. It is important for men to understand their risks and talk to their doctors about when to start screening.

“Globally, I think people are trying to define who is most at risk,” says Dr. Grass of current research around prostate cancer. He adds, “I think that’s the conundrum; who to screen and who not to.”

Generally speaking, it’s recommended that men who are 50 or older with a life expectancy of at least ten more years be screened for cancer. Men with high-risk factors such as a strong family history of the disease may be advised to start screening even sooner.

Testing for prostate cancer includes a blood test called the Prostate-specific Antigen (PSA test) and sometimes a Digital Rectal Exam (DRE). The PSA test looks for elevated levels of the antigen in the blood. The DRE involves a doctor or nurse using a finger to examine the prostate by feeling for lumps or abnormalities.

“By itself, it doesn’t always mean cancer,” says Dr. Grass of high PSA levels.

An enlarged prostate will show higher PSA levels, and PSA levels tend to increase steadily as they age. According to the American Cancer Society, a PSA test and DRE alone cannot diagnose prostate cancer. If both tests are abnormal, sometimes a biopsy is prescribed to look further for cancer.

According to Dr. Grass, biopsies are often performed by a urologist, like those at The Urology Group in Cincinnati (whose on-staff oncologists are OHC physicians Dr. Grass; Peter Fried, MD; and Elizabeth Levick, MD).

In the biopsy, a urologist takes an average of 12 samples from a man’s prostate. The cancer is not usually concentrated in one single spot in the gland, which is why so many samples are needed. Biopsies are often done with ultrasound guidance.

For men with prostate cancer, there are a number of different treatment options, including surgery, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, and watchful waiting (also known as active surveillance).

The health of the patient and what type of side effects will occur are two big factors in determining what route to take for treatment.

One common treatment is ‘seeds.’ This is a type of radiation that involves placing 70-100 small radioactive pellets in the prostate. It is a convenient, same-day procedure, although men can experience urinary difficulties for four to eight months after the procedure. Seeds are often used to treat slow-growing cancer or are combined with external beam radiation for more advanced cancers.

Although not right for everyone, a particulalry exciting treatment option is Cyberknife, a technological marvel whose full name is Cyberknife Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT) system. It’s a mouthful for sure. But it also gives oncologists Dr. Grass, Fried, and Levick the ability to treat prostate cancer accurately and in only five visits.

The American Cancer Society provides a helpful online guide that advises men on what questions to ask their doctors before treatment.

Regardless of the treatment option you choose with your oncologist, Dr. Grass urges patients to weigh their options and communicate with their doctors, as sometimes the risks of treatment outweigh the benefits.

Patients should carefully consider their age, stage and grade of cancer, potential side effects, other health issues, and the likelihood that a particular treatment will benefit them before deciding.

“It is important that men be aware of their risks,” adds Dr. Grass. “And if they do have cancer, we need to talk together openly about their treatment options.”

Jeffrey Grass, MD, is a radiation oncologist practicing at OHC’s Blue Ash and Fairfield, Ohio offices. He also is on staff at The Urology Group in Norwood, Ohio. He specializes in treating prostate cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, head and neck cancers, and gynecologic cancers.

Prostate cancer
Breast cancer
Lung cancer
Head and neck cancer
Gynecologic cancer – See more at: https://www.ohcare.com/physician/jeffrey-grass-m-d/#sthash.olXOdQfs.dpuf
Prostate cancer
Breast cancer
Lung cancer
Head and neck cancer
Gynecologic cancer – See more at: https://www.ohcare.com/physician/jeffrey-grass-m-d/#sthash.olXOdQfs.dpuf
Prostate cancer
Breast cancer
Lung cancer
Head and neck cancer
Gynecologic cancer – See more at: https://www.ohcare.com/physician/jeffrey-grass-m-d/#sthash.olXOdQfs.dpuf

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