Why men should get screened for prostate cancer

FILE - In this Feb. 4, 2016 file photo, Ben Stiller poses for photographers upon arrival at the premiere of the film "Zoolander No.2," in London. In an essay posted Tuesday, Oct. 4, on the website Medium, Stiller revealed that he battled prostate cancer in 2014, and he credits the test that diagnosed the cancer with saving his life. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP, File)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Actor Ben Stiller had no family history but was diagnosed with prostate cancer after getting screened for it.

He told radio personality Howard Stern, “It came out of the blue for me.”

Dr. Stan Honig says, “PSA is a good test, it’s not a great test but it’s the only test we have.”

The Director of Men’s Health at Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven says that’s mostly due to the high number of false positives.

But new technology, using MRI images, better identifies areas in the prostate more likely to be cancerous.

Dr. Honig points to, “This area right here is an area that we would probably focused on the prostate biopsy where in the past we might just be doing random biopsies and we might miss that area.”

He adds, there is a wide spectrum of prostate cancers.

Slow growing ones he says do not necessarily need treatment.

“Then there are those very aggressive ones that can kill you and then there are the ones that are in the middle like Ben Stiller’s who was kinda intermediate- appears to be intermediate grade – those are the people we can cure with some kind of treatment,” says Dr. Honig.

Stiller underwent surgery. The later the stage, the harder to treat says Dr. Honig. “And that’s the argument towards prostate cancer screening. If you don’t screen at all, we’re going to go back to the cases 20 years ago with people presented with prostate cancer spread throughout their body.”

For men who worry about intimacy after treatment, surgeons at Smilow are perfecting a procedure to preserve sexual function.

Dr. Honig explains, “Where you can actually spare the nerves that control erections and the success rate in preventing this type of complication is actually quite high.”

The American Urological Association recommends men between the ages 50 to 69 years old get screened for prostate cancer.

Dr. Honig says know your family history, if you’re African-American you’re at higher risk, and talk with your doctor when screening is appropriate.

The screening is painless he says, it’s a blood test and a digital rectal exam.

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