#1 New Year’s Resolution for Men: Get screened for prostate cancer  

Santa Rosa urologist and prostate cancer expert Dr. Michael Lazar provides an overview of prostate cancer screening options; says early detection saves lives.

“Knowing the many options for treating prostate cancer is something all men at risk of developing the disease need to be informed about,” says Dr. Lazar. “Most men know about the unpleasant side effects that go along with traditional models of prostate cancer treatment, including urinary incontinence, bowel and erectile dysfunction. But some of the newer treatment modalities such as HIFU (high-intensity focused ultrasound) can only be undertaken at the early stages, when damage to surrounding tissue can best be mitigated, and most side effects eliminated.”

Why Early Detection is Important

It is estimated that about one man in seven will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. Recent studies have revealed that screening in fact does save lives by reducing prostate cancer mortality. How men pursue treatment of an early diagnosis turns out to be a very personal decision, and being well-informed can make all of the difference.

When should men consider being screened?

  • Men 50 and older should talk to a healthcare provider about testing and decide whether it is right for them.
  • For men at higher risk who are age 45 such as African American men or men with a close family member (father, brother, or son) who had prostate cancer before they were 65.
  • Men around age 40 who have more than one close family member who developed prostate cancer at a young age (prior to age 65).

What is PSA?

According to the American Cancer Society prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is a substance made by cells in the prostate gland (both normal cells and cancer cells). PSA is mostly found in semen, but a small amount is also found in the blood. Normal PSA levels under 4 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) of blood. The chance of prostate cancer being present goes up as the PSA level goes up. Men with a PSA level between 4 and 10 have about a 1 in 4 chance of having prostate cancer. If the PSA is more than 10, the chance of having prostate cancer is over 50 percent.

Prostate Cancer Therapy Options

There are many treatment options available today including;

  • active surveillance
  • radiation therapy
  • surgery to remove the cancerous gland
  • freezing (cryotherapy)
  • hormonal therapy for very elderly patients
  • high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU)

“All of these treatment options can be effective under the right circumstances, although many of them have the kind of side effects most men, and certainly all of my patients, would prefer to avoid,” explains Dr. Lazar. “HIFU is perhaps one of the most exciting non-invasive prostate cancer treatment options today – with few to zero side effects in many cases. The key to success with HIFU is early detection, and swift treatment.”

High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU)

HIFU is a FDA approved precise and targeted therapy that reduces the risk of complications caused by surgery and radiation. HIFU uses ultrasound energy, or sound waves, to destroy specifically targeted areas of tissue. During HIFU, the sound waves pass through healthy tissue without causing damage.

In 2009 researchers examined the effectiveness of HIFU in 31 men who experienced a biochemical recurrence of prostate cancer following external beam radiation. Prior to HIFU, the average PSA among the men was 7.7 ng/ml. Three months after HIFU, about 65 percent reported a PSA of 0.2 ng/ml or less. Of those who reached the six- and nine-month check-ups, about half maintained a PSA at that level.

Dr. Lazar has been successfully treating patients with HIFU since 2007. “HIFU may not be appropriate in every situation, but it is most effective for men who have early stage, localized prostate cancer that has not spread or metastasized outside the prostate,” explains Dr. Lazar.  “Deciding to have a PSA annually is an important step in taking charge of your own health.”

About Dr. Lazar and California HIFU

Dr. Michael Lazar is the only Northern California physician recognized as a leader in the use of high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) for prostate cancer. He has been successfully treating patients with HIFU since 2007. Dr. Lazar formed California HIFU in order to offer minimally invasive prostate cancer treatment to men with the Sonablate.

For more information about HIFU treatment which is now available in San Francisco, or to make an appointment call: (707) 546-5553. Visit us online to learn more.