prostate cancer

Prostate Cancer: What Every Woman Should Know

Just because women don’t have prostate glands doesn’t mean they shouldn’t know the facts about prostate cancer. In fact, as the gatekeepers of health for many families, women play an important role in encouraging the men in their lives to get regular prostate screenings.

“Women typically seek out healthcare more often,” says Dr. Jessica Kreshover, Urologist at the Arthur Smith Institute for Urology and Assistant Professor at Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine. “Because of this, they are in a unique position to communicate the benefits of prostate cancer screening with their male family members and friends.”

The Benefits of Early Diagnosis of Prostate Cancer

Many women are shocked to learn that prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men, and that one in six men will develop prostate cancer in their lifetime (source: American Cancer Society). Although these statistics are alarming, the news isn’t all bad. The reality is that prostate tumors are often highly treatable when they’re diagnosed at an early stage.

Yet, early stage prostate cancer typically has few or no symptoms. It is most often first detected by a digital rectal exam (DRE) followed by a blood test to measure a protein made by prostate cells, called prostate specific antigen (PSA). A doctor usually can feel whether there is any swelling or nodules on the prostate. An elevated level of PSA also is an indicator that cancer may be present.

Current Prostate Screening Guidelines

The American Urological Association recommends that men obtain a baseline PSA screening and a DRE at age 55 or age 40 if there are risk factors (African Americans and family history), with follow-up screens at intervals determined by the patient and his physician. Decisions made on screening intervals are based on multiple factors including:

  • Age
  • Ethnicity
  • Family history
  • PSA test results

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force also recently announced a new recommendation that states that men ages 55 to 69 should “make an individualized decision about prostate cancer screening with their clinician.” This was a change to a blanket recommendation in 2012 for no routine screening at any age. Because of varying recommendations, it’s important for all men to discuss their specific prostate cancer screening needs with their physician during their annual checkup.

In some cases, genetic testing, to identify mutations in the genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 which increase the risk of prostate cancer, as well as the risk of breast and ovarian cancer in women, may be recommended as a risk assessment.

Prostate Cancer Treatment Options

If prostate cancer is diagnosed, treatment depends on the patient’s age, aggressiveness of the tumor and personal preference. Because prostate cancer is often slow-growing, repeat screenings and a follow-up biopsy is often the recommended option. If the cancer is more aggressive, treatment options may include surgical removal of the prostate, radiation therapy or brachytherapy, which involves placing small radioactive seeds in the prostate.

Coping with the Side Effects of Prostate Cancer Treatment

Some of the side effects of prostate cancer treatment, such as urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction (ED), can impact the quality of a man’s life. Fortunately, there are effective treatments for these side effects. Incontinence treatment options include surgical placement of a mesh sling over the urethra to hold urine back or an artificial urinary sphincter that closes down on the urethra to hold urine back. Oral medications, such as Cialis and Viagra, can help the majority of men who experience ED following treatment. Other ED treatment options include penile implants and vacuum pumps.

“There can be quality of life adjustments for some men following prostate cancer treatment,” says Dr. Kreshover. “However, women can help tremendously by providing compassionate moral support.”

Katz Institute for Women’s Health is here to answer your questions about cancer detection and prevention. Call the Katz Institute for Women’s Health Resource Center at 855-850-5494 to speak to a women’s health specialist.

Debunking Medical Myths

Debunking Medical Myths

Nearly every day, there are news stories about “breakthroughs,” “scientific findings” and “promising research.” There are also countless online medical resources, including many that publish unproven medical myths. With so much information out there of varying degrees of quality and accuracy, it can be very difficult to decipher the facts from fiction when it comes to women’s health and wellness. So, what’s the best way to determine the truth in medical headlines and online medical information? Here are a few tips to help guide you to the truth.

Don’t Jump to Conclusions

With increasing health-related headlines and news, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. What was once reported to be healthy can quickly be debunked and deemed downright risky. Before you make medical decisions based on a specific study or website, it’s important to consider that not all online medical information is significant or even valid.

Learn What Makes a Study Trustworthy

Not sure how to determine the validity or importance of a study? You will want to look at two key factors that can determine its reliability. First, it should be a randomized controlled trial. And, the study results should be published in an established journal such as the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Association or Lancet.

Rely on Reliable Health Information Websites

The Northwell Health site is a valuable source of accurate healthcare information. As well, the National Institutes of Health website is a trustworthy source for health information. Be leery of websites that are primarily testimonials or personal stories. Not everyone experiences health-related issues the same way. In other words, one person’s experience is not as compelling as clinical research.

Talk to Your Doctor

Most importantly, discuss any health or wellness issues with your healthcare provider. Don’t stop medication or treatment just because you saw a compelling report on a news channel. It’s important to talk to your doctor to determine if the study does apply to you and if it is reliable.

Do you have medical or healthcare questions? At Katz Institute for Women’s Health, we’re here with the latest information and facts. Call the Katz Institute for Women’s Health Resource Center at 855-850-5494 to speak to a women’s health specialist.

The Importance of Gender-Specific Research

The Importance of Gender-Specific Research

While there has been considerable publicity about the gender pay gap, it’s by no means the only inequality that women face on a widespread basis. We’ve learned that gender differences matter in all aspects of health and disease and we should not assume that study results for men are the same as for women. Historically, there has been a lack of gender-specific research which has had an impact on the ability of women to obtain accurate diagnosis and treatment. Because females have been generally excluded from research participation, they unfortunately have been overlooked in research findings.

Encouraging Researchers to Enroll More Women in Studies

There have been significant strides to encourage more gender-specific research which is enabling healthcare professionals to provide more specialized, effective care for women. More than 20 years ago, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) made a ruling that every study they funded had to state whether women and minorities were included and in what proportions. If women were not included, an explanation was required. In 2016, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Office of Women’s Health, in partnership with the NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health, launched the Diverse Women in Clinical Trials Campaign to further raise awareness about the importance of diverse women participating in clinical trials. The NIH, the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continue to develop new policies, programs and procedures to mandate and implement the inclusion of more women, as well as racial and ethnic minorities, in research.

The Challenge of Gender Disparity in Medical Research

Despite efforts to enroll more women in studies, there continues to be an under representation of female participants. According to the NIH, only one-third of cardiovascular clinical trial participants are female. Yet, cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of both men and women, and their presenting symptoms and response to treatments are different.

“Large gender gaps in research participation limit our findings on the difference between men’s and women’s health,” says Dr. Christina Brennan, MD, MBA, Vice-President, Clinical Research, Northwell Health. “Even when women are enrolled, the data is not analyzed and reported separately which can limit our understanding of findings.”

More recently, in the cases of heart disease, as well as lung cancer, there has been increased inclusion of women in research and clinical trials. This has led to greater knowledge and better tools for clinicians to provide optimal care for women.

Participating in a Clinical Trial

Although many women participate in clinical trials, there is still the need for greater involvement. Women from all ages, racial and ethnic groups can participate in trials, including those with disabilities or chronic health conditions. Through participation, women can make a difference by helping doctors learn more about women’s health.

Want to learn more about gender-specific research? At Katz Institute for Women’s Health, we’re here to answer your questions. Call the Katz Institute for Women’s Health Resource Center at 855-850-5494 to speak to a women’s health specialist.