This Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, urologist Dr. Michael Schutz, founder and director of the Prostate Care Center at Shore Medical Center, is urging all men age 50 and older – especially those who are uninsured or underinsured – to get screened for prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in American men next to skin cancer, with 1 in 8 men expected to receive a diagnosis in their lifetime. In 2021, the American Cancer Society estimates that there are 248,530 new cases and 34,130 deaths from prostate cancer, but with regular screening, prostate cancer can be caught early when it is most treatable.
Dr. Schutz, who practices with Shore Physicians Group and Jersey Urology Group, says that COVID-19 has led to a serious decline in elective procedures like cancer screenings, and as a result many cancers including prostate cancer are being found at more advanced stages.
“Prostate cancer can be a very manageable condition if it is caught early. If you are eligible to begin prostate cancer screening, I urge you to talk to your primary care doctor to decide whether prostate cancer screening is right for you,” says Dr. Schutz.
Screening guidelines generally recommend that men consider prostate cancer screening at age 50, or younger if they have an immediate family history or are of African American ancestry. According to the American Cancer Society, the incidence of prostate cancer is about 80% higher in African Americans than in Caucasians for reasons that remain unclear. It is important to have a discussion with your doctor about the uncertainties, risks and potential benefits of screenings. The initial screening is a simple blood test that measures prostate specific antigen levels, or PSAs, and a digital rectal exam.
Dr. Schutz says that men should be aware of prostate cancer symptoms and see a urologist if they are experiencing pain and frequent urination. “Those symptoms could be benign prostatic hyperplasia, or an enlarged prostate. This is a common condition in older men, with 7 in 10 men age 70 and older experiencing these symptoms,” said Dr. Schutz. “For others, the pain and frequent urination might be a symptom of prostate cancer. Once we conduct a prostate cancer screening, if we suspect prostate cancer, then we will conduct a biopsy.”
At the Prostate Care Center, Dr. Schutz and a comprehensive team of medical and radiation oncologists provide ongoing monitoring and treatment for men who have prostate cancer or are at risk of developing it. Each patient receives a personalized program based on their individual needs.
“Some prostate cancers are slow growing and require close monitoring. Others are more aggressive and require radiation, surgery, hormone therapy or chemotherapy. Through the Prostate Care Center, we can provide patients with the comprehensive care they need to make sure they receive the right treatment based on their age, overall health how fast the cancer is growing and whether it’s spread outside the prostate gland,” says Dr. Schutz.
Dr. Schutz says in the past the primary method of treating prostate cancer was surgery and radiation. The options are not so limited today. “How we treat prostate cancer has changed. For lower grade prostate cancer we follow the patients and we monitor the growth and avoid the morbidity of treatment until it is absolutely necessary. We want to maintain the best quality of life for men.” He added that early detection will give the physician and the patient the widest range of options for treatment.
Men who are uninsured, underinsured or have high deductibles they cannot afford and wish to be screened for prostate cancer may be able to receive a free screening through the NJ Cancer Education and Early Detection Program (NJ CEED). Shore Medical Center is the lead agency in Atlantic County for NJ CEED. To learn more and see if you qualify, call 609-653-3484 or visit https://shoremedicalcenter.org/screening-uninsured.
The Prostate Care Center at Shore Medical Center is an initiative by Shore Physicians Group in partnership with Shore Medical Center and urologist Dr. Michael J. Schutz. Dr. Schutz is a founding partner and practicing physician with the Jersey Urology Group who treats patients at Shore Medical Center. He is board certified in Urology and fellowship-trained in Urologic Oncology, and focuses on treating cancers of the bladder, prostate, kidney and testicle. Dr. Schutz sees patients at Shore’s Prostate Care Center, located at Shore Cancer Center, on the 1st and 3rd Fridays each month. Fore more information or to schedule an appointment with the Prostate Care Center, please call 609-365-6239.