Seeking Out Evil – Prostate Cancer Detection

February 15, 2019

Refining Prostate Cancer Detection

While no one likes having to bend over and crack a smile, Digital Prostate exams (DREs) are often employed as first-line preventative and diagnostic care of the prostate. It’s an exam that usually takes only several seconds and one during which your doctor will check for any abnormalities such as lumps or atypically hard or soft spots. A DRE at Austin Urology Institute can’t rule out a cancer diagnosis, but it can rule in the need for further examination based on the doctor’s findings.

Often, prostate cancer presents no overt symptoms, especially in its earliest stages. Some prostate cancer symptoms can include decreased force in the stream of urine, blood in the semen, erectile dysfunction, bone pain; leg swelling, fatigue, and frequent infections. The tricky part is that every one of these can stem from other causes. Even blood in semen – as horrifying as it may appear! – often has a benign cause. But, never, repeat never, ignore any of these symptoms.

There is as much controversy surrounding prostate cancer screening as there is around NFL players kneeling, correct toilet paper roll installation, and mammograms for women over a certain age. What is notable is that the leading cause of cancer deaths in males is from prostate cancer. Ironically, a diagnosis of prostate cancer can just mean keeping an eye on slow-growing varieties – particularly in older patients. So, what should you do? Whose body is it, and do you know what your prostate does for you? Being proactive can mean “staying in business” for a lifetime.

A Leader in the Field

Dr. Shaw is a leader in urology and in the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer. He doesn’t believe in solutions looking for a problem. He will assess the needs of every patient according to multiple factors before recommending a diagnostic procedure.

And, if you’re among those who need prostate cancer surgery within the state of Texas, you will not find a more painstakingly thorough and competent choice than Dr. Shaw. He’s also among the best urological cancer surgeons in Texas often employing less invasive techniques like Da Vinci robotic surgery.

Technology continues to enhance the best practices of medicine. Urology and prostate cancer screening and treatment have been changing dramatically with technology at the forefront. The old standard is no longer the gold standard. “PSAs” (prostate-specific antigen tests) are often unreliable. Not only are there now more refined tests to help assess risks of prostate cancer using biomarkers and DNA, but there are also new methods to help guide the diagnosis of prostate cancer.

Enter the prostate MRI.

Over the last 20 to 30 years, a transrectal ultrasound-guided biopsy (TRUS) was the best and only imaging practice used to diagnose prostate cancer. Although an ultrasound provided valuable information, it couldn’t pinpoint cancer as definitively as with an MRI today.

Specific prostate tumors (especially small ones) could often be missed or difficult to distinguish when using only TRUS. This was due to the poor resolution and limited image captured of the prostate by the ultrasound.

TRUS guided prostate biopsies also took tissue samples in a set pattern, potentially missing 30-40% of cancerous prostate tissue due to the size and location of the prostate cancer. Basically, it had the potential to miss a tiny malignant spot if it was not within the typical pattern of the guided ultrasound biopsy.

Today, thanks to the adjunctive use of the MRI, that’s all changed.

The prostate MRI’s high-resolution 3D images distinguish between normal and diseased prostate tissue to help precisely pinpoint potential cancerous cells within the prostate. Once an MRI is completed, those images can then be used in combination with a TRUS in order to obtain a very accurate biopsy of the tissue that’s suspected to be cancerous. This allows for the earlier identification of smaller tumors at earlier stages and tumors found in atypical areas of the prostate that may have previously been missed.

If you’re a young man of any age, from your 20’s to your 70’s and beyond, we encourage you to take care of yourself and not wait until something breaks. If something is a little bit off, take a deep breath, and take yourself to the doctor. We know. You’re busy. (Make time).

Dr. Shaw does more than treat prostate and bladder issues. He is also a trusted vasectomy provider in Austin (and even has folks visit from other parts of Texas for their vasectomies). Vasectomy is a minimally invasive procedure that you may want to consider when your family is complete, or when you and/or your partner decide that kids aren’t a part of your life-plan. A safe procedure lasting about 15 minutes will permanently retire your “swim team”. Discuss with us the pros of undergoing this procedure versus, say, an IUD for your partner. Our follow-up care ensures no resulting vasectomy infection, and you’ll soon be your old self (minus the worry of a “whoops”).