Prostate cancer screening and marital status



As in most diseases, early detection of prostate cancer can greatly improve the chances of treatment and survival. According to the Mayo Clinic, about 40% of prostate cancer cases are not detected until they have spread beyond the prostate gland. A lot of cases are asymptomatic in its early stages so that screening by a medical professional is sometimes the only way to diagnose the disease. However, some men are wont to avoid the issue. That is why it is important to understand psychosocial factors that influence men from having or not having prostate cancer screening.

Screening for prostate cancer can be done in many ways but the two most commonly recommended diagnostic tests are:

  • The prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, which looks at the levels of the biomarker PSA in the blood. High PSA levels can indicate inflammation or enlargement or cancer of the prostate
  • The digital rectal examination (DRE) is done by a medical professional by manual examination of the rectum. About 70% of prostate tumors develop on the outer part of the gland, which can then be felt by a finger inserted in the rectum.

Dr. Lauren Wallner of University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and her colleagues investigated the factors that influenced men to get tested for this deadly disease. Medical data of 2447 men from the Olmsted County Study on Urinary Symptoms and Health Status were collected and used for this specific study. These men were randomly selected in 1990 and information on family history of prostate cancer, prostate cancer concerns, marital status and medical and laboratory records was analyzed.

The patients who were included in the study have an age median of 51.9 years, 85% of which were married or living with someone. Approximately 9% of them have history of prostate cancer in the family while about 10% have shown concern or worry about the disease.

Statistical analysis showed that men with prostate cancer history in the family do have prostate cancer screening more frequently that those without history. Men who also showed more concern or worry more about the disease are more likely to have frequent screening that those who don’t. Married men or those with live-in partners are also found to have frequent prostate cancer screening compared to their single, unattached counterparts.

“Among men with a family history of prostate cancer, those who were married or living with someone were more likely to get screened compared with men who were not, suggesting a role for marital status in influencing screening behaviour,” the researchers concludes.

Could it be that emotional attachments make men more conscious of their health?

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