Celebrity Prostate Exams Bring Awareness to Prostate Cancer Detection

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Dennis R. Hill M.D., Medical Director of the HDR Prostate Brachytherapy Center and Radiation Oncologist at the Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland, CA, discusses the recent Today Show episode which featured a story on prostate health.

Matt Lauer and Al Roker of the Today show on NBC volunteered to have prostate exams on the air Thursday, November 7 in an effort to build awareness around prostate cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in six American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime.

Dennis R. Hill M.D. Medical Director of the HDR Prostate Brachytherapy Center and Radiation Oncologist at the Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland, CA explains that prostate cancer screening consists of a PSA blood test and a digital rectal exam which Lauer and Roker had behind closed doors, but on live TV, by Lauer’s urologist. "Is it the best 34 seconds of your life? Probably not," said Lauer, who has a family history of the disease but his exam was negative. "But if in 34 seconds a guy like this can detect something that might save your life, what are we talking about?" Roker, whose prostate was deemed "a little enlarged" will require follow-up.

The weather man soberly discussed the prevalence of prostate cancer in the African American community with Dr. Nancy Snyderman. There has been some controversy about routine prostate cancer screening since the United States Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) has recommended that PSA screening for prostate cancer NOT be done on any man.

Based on their study they report few men benefit out of so many tested and there could be harm with overtreatment. The American Urological Society (AUA) does not agree with that. The AUA continues to support the use of the PSA test. However, PSA-based screening without clearly targeting those who are most likely to benefit from testing does result in harms, including over diagnosis and overtreatment.

According to Dr. Hill, all involved professionals have to take a more targeted approach to minimize these harms. The AUA feel that men ages 55 to 70 who are in good health and have more than a 10- to 15-year life expectancy should have the choice to be tested and not discouraged from doing so. Men who are African American or have a positive family history should be screened.

Dr. Hill notes that there is general agreement that early detection, including PSA screening, has played a key part in decreasing prostate cancer mortality. If cancer is detected in an early stage it can be cured fairly readily. The treatment options are surgery, external beam radiation, permanent seed implant or high dose rate brachytherapy. All these methods give equal results, but high dose rate brachytherapy does the least harm.

About Dennis R. Hill MD

Dr. Hill is a board certified radiation oncologist doing High Dose Rate brachytherapy exclusively since 2004 and has published scholarly articles on the subject. His office is located at: Dennis R. Hill MD, 3012 Summit Street, Suite 2675, Oakland, CA 94609 510-869-8875. His email is drh(at)dennisrhillmd(dot)com and his website is hdrprostatebrachytherapy.com.

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