Ask the Doctor: Dr. Maz Ganat

Maz Ganat, MD, is program director of urologic oncology at The Lefcourt Family Cancer Treatment and Wellness Center at Englewood Health. He specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of cancers that affect the male and female urinary tract and the male reproductive organs.

My husband absolutely hates going doctors’ appointments, and I’m sure the responsibility of getting him to prostate screenings at the appropriate age will be mine. That being said, at what age should men begin regular prostate exams?

Dr. Ganat: If your husband has an average risk for developing prostate cancer, he should begin prostate exams at age 50. If he is at a higher risk for prostate cancer—for example, if he is African-American or has a father or brother who was diagnosed with prostate cancer—he should begin exams at about 45. If he is at even higher risk—meaning multiple first-degree relatives had prostate cancer at a young age—he really should be seen by a doctor by about 40.

If life gets in the way, as it often does, and I miss my cancer screenings, are there any physical symptoms I can look for that would let me know if I have prostate cancer?

Dr. Ganat: Prostate cancer symptoms can vary, and often there are no symptoms in the early stages of the disease (which is why screenings are so important). However, some men may experience difficulty urinating, more frequent urges to urinate at night, blood in the urine, bone pain, erectile dysfunction, and discomfort in the pelvic region, typically in the later stages of the disease.

Truth or myth: my father had prostate cancer, so I will, too, someday.

Dr. Ganat: Myth… with this caveat: having a first-degree relative with prostate cancer does increase your chances of getting the disease. However, that does not mean you will definitely get it. You may have a genetic predisposition to developing the disease. Young men who have a father or brother who has had prostate cancer should focus on maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle and consider starting prostate screenings in their early to mid-40s.

Posted September 2018; updated January 22, 2020

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