Prostate Cancer: Screenings Vs. Early Detection (They’re Not The Same)
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When it comes to preventing any number of serious health conditions, medical guidelines and expert recommendations always stress the importance of screenings. In the case of prostate cancer and African American men, early screening is stressed. But according to one renowned prostate cancer expert, screenings alone may be missing the mark when it comes to catching prostate cancer early, particularly in Black men. “I would say that I do not believe in ‘screening’ of prostate cancer. I do believe very strongly in early detection,” revealed Dr. Fleming of Virginia Oncology Associates in a recent interview with BlackDoctor.org. “Because early detection saves lives.”
At first read, this may sound a little confusing. Wouldn’t screenings be a part of early detection? Screenings are a good thing, right? Dr. Fleming explains, “Screening implies that you take a random population of patients and you do some testing and you attempt to diagnose a disease with the hope of starting treatment earlier. Early detection really is more appropriate when you have an informed patient and informed physician who looks at what are the optimal treatment strategies for prostate cancer.”
Many times, you will hear of churches, barbershops or health fairs conducting mass screenings by providing free prostate-specific antigen testing, more commonly known as the PSA test. A blood sample is taken and tested for the levels of protein produced by cells of the prostate gland. The blood level of PSA is often elevated in men with prostate cancer.