Emory Report

October 4, 1999

 Volume 52, No. 7


Prostate cancer guidelines available on American Cancer Society web site

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), prostate cancer is second only to lung cancer as a cause of cancer-related death in men. In 1998, 184,000 cases were diagnosed in the United States, and 39,200 died from the disease.

"Harvard Men's Health Watch" newsletter, published by the Harvard Medical School, reports that although the exact cause of prostate cancer is not known, nutrition is believed to play an important role. Studies are being conducted on the relationship between saturated fat from animal sources and phytochemicals, such as lycopene in tomatoes and isoflavones in soy. Until correlative studies can answer diet-related research questions, early detection is crucial to reducing the risk of dying from prostate cancer.

There is disagreement among health and medical organizations and professionals about prostate cancer screening. While some recommend regular screening, others believe there is insufficient scientific evidence to determine if screening for prostate cancer reduces deaths or if treatment of early disease is more effective than no treatment in prolonging a patient's life. Screening involves the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test. It can indicate if something is wrong with the prostate, including infection or possibly cancer. The digital rectal exam can detect prostate bumps and an enlarged prostate.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) and the American Urological Association recommend an annual digital rectal exam and the PSA test beginning at age 50, earlier if there is a family history of prostate cancer. Emory Clinic provides free prostate screening each year during Prostate Cancer Awareness Month in September. Throughout the year, the Emory Clinic can refer men to an EmoryCare urologist for screening. For more information, contact the Emory Health Connection at 404-778-7777.

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network, a nationwide network of 17 cancer centers, and the American Cancer Society teamed up to provide patients and the general public the most current information about treatment options for prostate cancer. The ACS translated the network's prostate cancer treatment guidelines, originally developed for oncologists' use, into an understandable language and format for patients. The guidelines include information on early detection and evaluation of prostate cancer, staging and side effects of various treatments.

The publication of the prostate cancer treatment guidelines in June 1999 followed an earlier joint effort to produce breast cancer treatment guidelines. "The launch of the breast cancer patient information in March was received with an overwhelming and very positive response. We are still receiving a large volume of requests and inquiries," said William McGivney, chief executive officer of National Comprehensive Cancer Network. There also has been a positive response to the prostate cancer guidelines.

After studying research results on prostate cancer treatment, a panel of network experts agreed on specific, up-to-date recommendations for treating men with this disease. These recommendations were formulated using scientific evidence and currently accepted approaches to treatment. Every year the panel will update its recommendations to keep up with advances in medical science.

The guidelines are helping people better understand prostate cancer treatments and their doctors' advice. The treatment options for different stages of cancer are presented as flow charts; for each stage, the chart shows step-by-step how patients and doctors can make choices about treatment.

The treatment guidelines and information on all types of cancer can be obtained through the ACS web site at <www.cancer.org>. ACS divisions around the country also distribute the guidelines in their areas.

Wellness is sponsored by the BSHE Department of the Rollins School of Public Health.

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