Health Watch -- Talk about Prostate

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

You may have given your dad a gift for Father's Day, but there's a valuable gift your father can give you: information.

We don't like to talk about cancer, and men may be especially reluctant to talk about prostate cancer. But doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas say it's important for fathers to talk to their adult sons about prostate cancer. Prostate cancer tends to run in families, so if a man has had prostate cancer, his sons have a greater chance of developing it as well. Brothers of men who have had prostate cancer also face a higher risk.

If a man knows he's at higher risk because of a family link, he can take measures to detect the disease earlier. He should begin annual screenings at the age of 40. The screenings should include a physical exam as well as a blood test for prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, a known marker for prostate cancer.

Dr. Kenneth Koeneman, a UT Southwestern urologist, says that prostate cancer is very treatable with surgery and radiation if it's detected early enough. That's why it's so important for men to know if their risk is higher so they can be extra-vigilant about being screened for the disease. This is one situation where being strong and silent isn't an advantage. You can save your son's life by making sure they're aware of any history of prostate cancer in your family.

Sons can also return the favor and remind their dads to continue screenings for prostate cancer.