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ABSTRACT: Neurologic complications continue to pose problems in patients with metastatic prostate cancer. From 15 to 30 percent of metastases are the result of prostate cancer cells traveling through Batson's plexus to the lumbar spine. Metastatic disease in the lumbar area can cause spinal cord compression. Metastasis to the dura and adjacent parenchyma occurs in 1 to 2 percent of patients with metastatic prostate cancer and is more common in those with tumors that do not respond to hormone-deprivation therapy. Leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, the most frequent form of brain metastasis in prostate cancer, has a grim prognosis. Because neurologic complications of metastatic prostate cancer require prompt treatment, early recognition is important. Physicians should consider metastasis in the differential diagnosis of new-onset low back pain or headache in men more than 50 years of age. Spinal cord compression requires immediate treatment with intravenously administered corticosteroids and pain relievers, as well as prompt referral to an oncologist for further treatment.
ABSTRACT: Controversy surrounds the management options for localized prostate cancer-conservative management, prostatectomy, and radiation. Choosing among these options is difficult because of long-term side effects that include sexual, urinary, and bowel dysfunction. Some recent studies suggest that patients who have chosen treatment (i.e., radical prostatectomy or radiation) have longer disease-free survival compared with patients who have chosen conservative management (i.e., watchful waiting). However, several biases may artificially enhance the perceived value of treatment and make the interpretation of studies on treatment outcomes difficult. Sources of bias include lead time, length time, and patient selection. Because of the uncertain efficacy of management options and the risk of long-term treatment complications, family physicians need to engage their patients in the decision-making process.
Cancer Screening in the Older Patient - Article
ABSTRACT: Although there are clear guidelines that advise at what age to begin screening for various cancers, there is less guidance concerning when it may be appropriate to stop screening. The decision to stop screening must take into account patients' age; overall health and life expectancy; the natural history of the disease; and the risks, expense, and convenience of the screening test, and any subsequent testing and treatment. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and the American Academy of Family Physicians suggest that Papanicolaou smears can be discontinued in women at 65 years of age, provided they have had adequate recent normal screenings. Evidence suggests that cessation of breast cancer screening at approximately 75 to 80 years of age is appropriate, although American Geriatric Society guidelines recommend cessation at a more advanced age. Studies support continuing colon cancer screening until approximately 75 years of age in men and 80 years of age in women for patients without significant comorbidities. Prostate cancer screening, if conducted at all, may be discontinued at approximately 75 years of age in otherwise healthy men. Ultimately, the decision to screen or to discontinue screening must be made after careful discussion with each patient, using evidence-based guidelines and individual patient preferences.
ABSTRACT: In the United States, prostate cancer is the most common solid tumor malignancy in men and second to lung cancer as the leading cause of cancer deaths in this group. Even though prostate cancer is responsible for 40,000 deaths per year, screening programs are a matter of controversy because scientific evidence is lacking that early detection decreases morbidity and mortality. Furthermore, treatment decisions are difficult to make because of the generally indolent nature of prostate cancer and because it tends to occur in older men who often have multiple, competing medical illnesses. Depending on the specific situation, radical prostatectomy, radiotherapy or watchful waiting (observation) will be the most appropriate management option. In general, localized cancer is best treated with surgical removal of the prostate gland or radiotherapy. Hormone deprivation therapy is the primary method of controlling metastatic prostate cancer. At present, chemotherapy cannot cure disseminated prostate cancer. Watchful waiting is a reasonable management alternative for prostate cancer in an older patient or a patient with other serious illnesses.
ABSTRACT: Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men, with a lifetime prevalence of 17 percent. Prostate cancer symptoms generally occur in advanced stages, making early detection desirable. Digital rectal examination and prostate-specific antigen testing are the most commonly used screening tools. The goal of screening is to detect clinically significant prostate cancers at a stage when intervention reduces morbidity and mortality; however, the merits and methods of screening continue to be debated. Prostate-specific antigen levels may be less than 4 ng per mL in 15 to 38 percent of men with cancer, indicating a high false-negative rate. The positive predictive value of the prostate-specific antigen test is approximately 30 percent; therefore, less than one in three men with an abnormal finding will have cancer on biopsy. These limitations of the prostate-specific antigen test have led to variations designed to improve its accuracy (e.g., age- and race-specific cutoffs, free prostate-specific antigen tests); however, none of these modifications have been widely adopted because of unclear benefits. Although treatments have improved in the past two decades, therapy for prostate cancer is not benign and may lead to urinary incontinence, sexual dysfunction, or bowel dysfunction. New evidence affecting screening recommendations continues to accumulate, and two large randomized controlled trials of screening will be completed in the next few years. Current guidelines recommend an individualized, targeted, patient-centered discussion to facilitate a shared decision about screening plans.
Prostate Cancer Screening: Let Patients Decide - Editorials
Another Ounce of Prevention - Getting Paid
The Evidence-Based Medicine Heresy - Editor's Page
ABSTRACT: Hematospermia can be a distressing symptom for patients, but most cases are effectively managed by a primary care physician. Although the condition is usually benign, significant underlying pathology must be excluded by history, physical examination, laboratory evaluation, and, in select cases, other diagnostic modalities. In men younger than 40 years without risk factors (e.g., history of cancer, known urogenital malformation, bleeding disorders) and in men with no associated symptoms, hematospermia is often self-limited and requires no further evaluation or treatment other than patient reassurance. Many cases are attributable to sexually transmitted infections or other urogenital infections in men younger than 40 years who present with hematospermia associated with lower urinary tract symptoms. Workup in these patients can be limited to urinalysis and testing for sexually transmitted infections, with treatment as indicated. In men 40 years and older, iatrogenic hematospermia from urogenital instrumentation or prostate biopsy is the most common cause of blood in the semen. However, recurrent or persistent hematospermia or associated symptoms (e.g., fever, chills, weight loss, bone pain) should prompt further investigation, starting with a prostate examination and prostate-specific antigen testing to evaluate for prostate cancer. Other etiologies to consider in those 40 years and older include genitourinary infections, inflammations, vascular malformations, stones, tumors, and systemic disorders that increase bleeding risk.