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Things to consider before getting screened for prostate cancer

The Doctors | 4/29/2014, 10:30 p.m.
New statistics show that in the past 20 years, the overall risk of dying from cancer has dropped 20 percent. ...

New statistics show that in the past 20 years, the overall risk of dying from cancer has dropped 20 percent. Though the progress is promising, prostate cancer still will account for one in four of all the newly diagnosed cancer cases among men this year.

Scientists continue to research new and better ways to detect and treat prostate cancer. Here's what some of the latest findings suggest:

Weigh the risks and benefits of PSA screenings.

Short for prostate-specific antigen, high levels of PSA in your blood may indicate prostate cancer. Although this test may detect cancer at an early stage, when it's easier to treat, it could find a tumor so small and slow-growing that it may never risk a man's life, or even cause symptoms. Up to almost half of men with prostate cancer detected by PSA tests have tumors that wouldn't pose any risk, according to some estimates.

Your doctor can help you make an informed decision, based on your age, risk factors and personal preferences.

Consider the "watch and wait" approach.

Some doctors call it active surveillance, but the basic idea is the same: Closely monitor your prostate cancer for any changes to determine whether treatment is needed. It's a possible option if your cancer is small, contained within the prostate, expected to grow slowly and is not causing any symptoms.

If treatment is necessary, options include surgery, radiation therapy, hormone therapy and chemotherapy, among others.

Try Qigong for fatigue.

It's an ancient Chinese practice that combines gentle movement, meditation and controlled breathing, and a recent trial study found it may help survivors of prostate cancer combat extreme tiredness. Fatigue often results from the cancer or treatment side effects.