Prostate cancer is the most common cancer affecting men in the United States, after skin cancer. Yet, “most men die with prostate cancer, not of prostate cancer,” says Mark Pomerantz, MD, a medical oncologist in Dana-Farber’s Lank Center for Genitourinary Oncology, who recently shared the latest in prostate cancer research and treatment during a live video webchat.
During the chat, Pomerantz discussed one of the more controversial topics in prostate cancer: the PSA test, which measures the prostate-specific antigen and is a good marker for the amount of prostate tissue in the body. While informative, the test is not universally recommended in the U.S.
“If men are going to die with the disease rather than because of the disease, there are consequences to finding prostate cancer,” explains Pomerantz. “It leads to the psychological impact of having a cancer diagnosis and, more troubling, overtreatment of the disease.”
“On the other hand, we also want to save the lives of the 30,000 men each year who die of prostate cancer. It’s a very tricky balance,” Pomerantz adds.
While treatment has its side effects, for some men with a high Gleason score, high PSA number, or who have a large amount of tumor present, treatment can be curative. For those patients with lower-grade tumors, many oncologists take an “active surveillance” approach.
“Over time, we are more and more confident that we can safely manage patients without needing immediate cure,” says Pomerantz.
In addition to PSA testing, Pomerantz also discussed prostate cancer genetics and risk, the promise of gene therapy and immunotherapy, and the importance of clinical trials for prostate cancer. Learn more by watching a recording of the webchat below: