by Krystal Paco
Guam - Males in their 50s or 60s with a strong family history of cancer are at high risk for prostate cancer. Pacific Urology Consultants' Dr. Virgilio Petero is a urologist and renal transplant surgeon who will speak at the upcoming Guam Medical Association Cancer Conference.
There will be one new prostate cancer diagnosed for every 1,000 men every year on Guam as well as one death a month as a result of the male-specific disease. "The risk factors obviously include age because prostate cancer happens only in men who are 60 years and above although there are some men who will be diagnosed at 40, 45 years old," explained Dr. Petero. And these are men with strong history of cancers, specifically prostate, so it's age, it is the family history, and of course the risk with our lifestyle like smoking, obesity will also give us high risk for developing prostate cancer."
According to Dr. Petero, who studied urology in the Philippines and in the U.S., prostate cancer is one of the most controversial of diseases. Specifically, there are conflicted studies as to how to screen and diagnose the disease using prostate specific antigens. "If you have a high PSA, it means that there's something going on in the prostate. Now whether this is a benign process or is this a malignant process going on? The PSA cannot really give what is the cause for the elevation. The only way to detect prostate cancer is to do a biopsy in patients with elevated PSA or in the rectal examination when it's abnormal," he added.
Dr. Petero says despite controversies surrounding PSAs, he still uses them as tools to help detect an activity occurring in the prostate. He also recommends rectal exams. Treating the disease also has its share of controversies, as there is no evidence to what's the best treatment if treatment is necessary at all.
He said, "Not all prostate cancers should be treated. In fact, if you treat some of the prostate cancers, it potentially does more harm to the patient, so it's a very good study, very new off the oven if you use the term."
Some studies even say certain vitamins increase one's risk of getting prostate cancer. For those managing advanced prostate cancer, there are medications on the market to help. "This is a very dynamic field," Petero continued. "In the past three years there are five new medications that were shown to give a better survival advantage for patients with advanced prostate cancer. And all these drugs are FDA approved already."
Ultimately though, prostate cancer is indolent. That is, it doesn't kill you in a matter of days, months, or even years, but 13 to 15 years after being diagnosed. "Prostate cancer is a very prevalent disease and most of it, if we catch it early, it is a highly treatable disease. Even in those patients who have prostate cancer already there is a new evidence that treating it might be a bad idea, might even be harmful," he said.
Dr. Petero is slated to present on prostate cancer on September 30 at the Hyatt Regency Guam.