As we embrace ‘Movember,’ a month dedicated to raising awareness about men’s health, we turn to a leading urologist from the esteemed Cleveland Clinic’s Glickman Urological & Kidney Institute for insights on vital health check-ups and early warning signs for three prevalent urological cancers. Dr. Jihad Kaouk, a renowned urologist and Director of Robotic Surgery, underscores the significance of these screenings in ensuring timely detection and more manageable treatment options.
1. Kidney Cancer Screening
Kidney cancer often makes its appearance in the later stages of life, primarily affecting individuals aged 60 and above. However, it’s essential to recognise that even younger men can develop kidney cancer. Dr. Kaouk advises that younger men should undergo screenings when they experience abnormal symptoms. Such as blood in the urine, flank pain, or fever. Kidney cancer often remains asymptomatic, making routine screenings a must for men aged 60 and above as part of their annual check-up.
A simple abdominal ultrasound proves invaluable in screening for kidney cancer, especially for individuals with a family history of kidney disease or those displaying symptoms. In the event an abnormality is detected, such as a mass on the kidney, a contrast-enhanced MRI or CT scan confirms the diagnosis and charts the way forward. Dr. Kaouk underscores that kidney cancer frequently goes unnoticed until incidentally discovered during unrelated medical screenings.
Dr. Kaouk assures that early detection of localised kidney masses offers straightforward treatment options with a high rate of cure.
2. Prostate Cancer Test
Prostate cancer is highly prevalent, and if all men live beyond the age of 90. The statistics show that every man would develop it at some point. Dr. Kaouk emphasises the need to focus on treating men with aggressive forms of prostate cancer and those diagnosed at a younger age. For older patients or less aggressive prostate cancer cases. Active surveillance is the preferred approach, with treatment initiated only if necessary.
Annual testing for prostate cancer is critical for men aged 50 and older. However, individuals with a first-degree relative diagnosed with prostate cancer should begin screening as early as age 40. Alongside a physical examination, screening involves a blood test to measure elevated levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA). Dr. Kaouk clarifies that a high PSA level doesn’t automatically indicate cancer, as it can have various causes, both cancerous and noncancerous.
In the event of a nodule or bulge being detected during a rectal physical examination. Dr. Kaouk explains that a biopsy will be performed, irrespective of the PSA results. The good news is that the biopsy process has significantly improved over the years, significantly reducing the risk of infection or bleeding. Multiparametric MRI, combined with ultrasound imagery, is often utilised at Cleveland Clinic for precise prostate biopsies.
Upon confirmation of cancer via biopsy, Dr. Kaouk assures patients that a tailored treatment plan will be devised, considering the cancer’s aggressiveness, comorbidities, and life expectancy.
3. Bladder Cancer
“Bladder cancer can be life-threatening, and it is time sensitive as it can be very aggressive, spreading quickly. Smokers are at particularly high risk for bladder cancer so they need to be extra vigilant. There is no routine bladder cancer test, but patients will be screened if they report symptoms. The most common symptom is blood in the urine. Fortunately, screening is very simple, and conducted through inserting a scope into the bladder to examine it, in addition to urine tests.”
Dr. Kaouk says that if polyps are found in the bladder, they can usually be scraped out. However, if the cancer has advanced significantly, the bladder may have to be removed, which is life-changing.
“Movember is a great opportunity to create awareness of these common health cancers found in men and to encourage them to speak openly to their doctors about any symptoms they experience. Doing so could greatly improve their outcomes or even save their lives,” Dr. Kaouk concludes.