Prostate Cancer

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If You Have a Family History of Prostate Cancer, Get Screened Early

Dr. James Brooks Stanford Medicine

For prostate cancer, screening saves lives, family history can matter a lot, but you should also understand that leading doctors in the field debate when men actually need screening.

“It’s estimated that five to ten percent of prostate cancer can run in families,” says Dr. James Brooks, Chief of Urologic Oncology at Stanford Medicine. If you have a close relative who has had prostate cancer, such as a brother or father, the risk you will develop prostate cancer in your lifetime is almost double. Men with a family history tend to get prostate cancer at a younger age, so Dr. Brooks recommends getting screened–in some cases as early as age 45–by having a PSA test. Early detection can help reduce the risk of cancer spreading to other organs. The National Comprehensive Cancer Network also recommends germline genetic testing for men with high-risk prostate cancer.

But, screening can also open up a whole can of worms, finding cancers that are slow growing and may not need aggressive treatment. Still, when most men are told they have prostate cancer, they want it out. That’s understandable.

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Dr. James Brooks is a urologic oncologist at Stanford Hospital & Clinics and an associate professor in the School of Medicine. Read More

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