Dr. Michael Myers of Marshall Urology was the guest speaker at the most recent Goldcare55+ lunch-n-learn.
He talked extensively about prostate cancer in men. If a man lives long enough, there's a pretty good chance he will have prostate cancer.
But how doctors address that prostate cancer depends on a number of factors. In many cases, they simply do nothing.
Many types of prostate cancer tend to be slow growing. If you're at an advanced age when diagnosed, something else is more likely to kill you than prostate cancer.
Balancing the treatment and fine tuning it for individual patients is what doctors try to do.
The PSA blood test is the basic test for prostate cancer. But after men reach a certain age, the test is not needed, Myers said.
There is some psychological damage that comes with hearing the word "cancer." Why expose yourself to that risk if you are 80 years old, it's a slow growing cancer and you're not going to require treatment?
"It has a huge impact on most people to hear that word," Myers said. "It's a scary word."
He said doctors try to "stratify" the risk based on the patient's age and condition in determining how to address prostate cancer.
"To treat or not to treat is a big question and it depends on a variety of factors," he said.
The idea behind the PSA blood test for prostate cancer is that it can help catch 80 percent of cancers before they become a problem. The normal scale for a PSA test is 0 to 2.5 or 3.
"How prevalent is prostate cancer?" Myers asked. "If you examined every man age 50 and up who was killed in a car wreck, 50 percent of them would have prostate cancer. If you increase that to 70 year olds, 70 percent would have it."
The gist of his talk was men need to be aware of prostate health, but many cancers are slow growing. A diagnosis of prostate cancer certainly doesn't mean it's going to kill you and it might not even require you to have treatment.
The next lunch-n-learn will focus on breast cancer since October is breast cancer awareness month. It will be Thursday, Oct. 24, at 11:30 at the Guntersville Senior Center.
The cost is $5.
You must make a reservation at least one week in advance by calling 256-571-8025 or 256-753-8025 for Arab area residents.