Prostate Cancer Awareness Month: The Most Important Honey-Do List

New York Urologist, Dr. David Samadi enlists women during Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

Sep 10, 2011, 12:06 ET from

NEW YORK, Sept. 10, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- September marks Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, and as a result, women throughout the United States have a valuable addition to the infamous honey-do list. As the second leading cause of death in U.S. men, prostate cancer will affect close to 218,000 this year, many with almost no symptoms. Sadly, 32,000 of those men will succumb to the disease. What Dr. David Samadi, Vice Chairman, Department of Urology, and Chief of Robotics and Minimally Invasive Surgery at The Mount Sinai Medical Center, wants men and women to be most aware of this month is that "the silent killer" doesn't have to kill. Understanding prostate cancer and respecting its unfortunate, but significant, roll in our lives is key.  Dr. Samadi is a prostate cancer treatment and robotic surgery expert that has completed over 3,500 successful robotic prostatectomy procedures in his New York Urology practice.  

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Dr. Samadi knows that his greatest allies in fighting prostate cancer are women. "They're the ones that care the most. Women read more, they talk more and, honestly, they push more. And it all comes from a place of caring." And Dr. Samadi is grateful for this. "Women have the power to educate their husbands, boyfriends and fathers and make them act." This month, Dr. Samadi is giving women some more ammunition in the fight to keep their men healthy. "The List" outlines four simple reminders about prostate cancer:  Learn your prostate cancer risk, Improve your lifestyle, Screen annually and Treat aggressively, if necessary.

LEARN Your Risk:

"In most cases, it's very easy to know whether or not a man is at an increased risk for prostate cancer," explains Dr. Samadi.

Genetics – men with a father or brother with prostate cancer are 2x as likely to develop the disease; having 3 or more relatives with prostate cancer makes a diagnosis almost certain

Race – African American men have a 60% increased risk of prostate cancer over Caucasian men

Age – more than 65% of prostate cancers occur in men over 65

Weight – obese men, those with a BMI over 30, are 33% more likely to die from a prostate cancer disease

IMPROVE Your Lifestyle:

"Healthy doesn't have to be hard. Making changes now is much easier than the changes you could face with prostate cancer," stresses Dr. Samadi.

Eat Right – It's no secret that what you eat impacts your health; and while diet can't necessarily prevent prostate cancer, eating right can improve your overall health. Further, some studies show that nutrients such as lycopene, found in tomatoes, and sulforaphane, in foods such as broccoli, can have cancer-fighting properties. Even red wine contains antioxidants.

Move It – Exercise goes a long way in improving a body's strength and wellness, and is certainly part of maintaining a healthy weight. A healthy sex life may help, too, as some research indicates a reduction in prostate cancer risk with increased ejaculations.

SCREEN Annually:

"Men have a huge reluctance to see a doctor about anything. Annual physicals are an inconvenience to them. Why go to the doctor when I feel perfectly fine? But waiting for symptoms doesn't work with prostate cancer," Dr. Samadi warns.

PSA Test – Performed by your primary physician at your annual physical, this simple blood test measures levels of the Prostate-Specific Antigen. Annual PSA testing should begin at age 50, though men with increased risk should begin at age 40. Some physicians recommend the test even earlier as a baseline.

DRE – During the Digital Rectal Exam a physician does a finger check for bumps or abnormalities on the surface of the prostate. Though the least appealing of the tests, it's quick and painless and should be performed annually with the PSA screening.

Symptoms – Though not clear indicators, there are some potential signs of prostate cancer. Frequency or difficulty urinating, weak or interrupted urine flow, pain associated with urination or ejaculation, erection difficulty and blood in urine or semen are issues that should be mentioned to your physician. Don't dismiss them as minor or too embarrassing to discuss.

TREAT Aggressively:

With a prostate cancer diagnosis comes important treatment decisions. "Do your homework," urges Dr. Samadi, "and if it's appropriate to your diagnosis, strongly consider robotic prostatectomy surgery."

Watchful Waiting – For those who choose to postpone radiation or surgery, surveillance of the cancer is an option. "This can be risky business," Dr. Samadi cautions. "Prostate cancer has a way of sneaking up on us and accelerating faster than we know. This option should be chosen after careful consideration of all treatment choices." For men of a more advanced age or reduced physical capacity, waiting may better serve their health than aggressive treatment.  

Open or Laparoscopic Prostatectomy – Historically, radical prostatectomy surgery was performed via open surgery or laparoscopic surgery. Both options effectively remove the cancer; however, open surgery is associated with a longer and more painful recovery. Laparoscopy offers improvements in this area, but can be limiting to a surgeon's ability to perform optimally.

Robotic Prostatectomy – More recently, robotic prostatectomy using the da Vinci Surgical System allows surgeons to pair their open and laparoscopic expertise with enhanced technology. Precise movements and enhanced visualization make this option a superior way to remove the prostate while sparing the nerve bundles that control urinary and sexual function. "Recovery is faster and men get their lives back on track much more quickly with robotic surgery," says Dr. Samadi. With more than 3,500 successful robotic prostatectomy surgeries to his credit, Dr. Samadi urges prostate cancer patients to choose a well-experienced surgeon for this procedure.

Radiation or Chemotherapy – External or internal "seed" radiation and chemotherapy are chemical options for killing cancer cells. In certain instances, these options may be ideal; however, it is Dr. Samadi's belief that removal of the prostate is the best way to eliminate risk of the cancer returning. "It's about peace of mind. Treat the diagnosis aggressively without allowing it to consume your life. Side effects are present with each option, but robotic surgery can really help mitigate the risks." Dr. Samadi also cautions that in most cases, prostatectomy surgery cannot be performed after radiation. "If the radiation fails or the cancer returns in a few years, prostatectomy may not be an option."

Prostate cancer will be the hot topic this month. Dr. Samadi urges women to seize the opportunity to do what they do best – read, talk, push. Get men to the doctor. To men he says, "Listen to the women in your life. They depend on you and they care about you. These really are simple steps. And what's one more list? Make her happy; check off The List."

More can be seen from prostate cancer expert, Dr. David Samadi, who is also part of the Fox News Medical A-Team.

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