By Mrinal Gokhale
Cancer is deadly, but sometimes, people don’t notice symptoms until it is too late. Prostate cancer is just one example. Statistics show one in seven American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime, and nearly 30,000 die of the disease each year.
Furthermore, prostate cancer is the second leading cancer that causes death in men after lung cancer.
Dr. Kenneth Jacobsohn, MD, is a urologist specializing in treating bladder, kidney, prostate and testicular cancers at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Clinical Cancer Center.
He emphasizes the importance of men detecting prostate cancer early. “Simply being a man puts you at risk, and your risk increases if you have a first-degree blood relative with prostate cancer,” Dr. Jacobsohn said. “African American men also have a higher risk and rate of death.”
Most men in America get diagnosed with prostate cancer between ages 55 to 74, with 66 being the average age.
Dr. Jacobsohn specializes in robotic surgery, which involves the removal of the entire prostate. This surgery is minimally invasive and best for early stages of prostate cancer in which the tumor has not spread past the prostate. “There are four stages of prostate cancer,” said Dr. Jacobsohn. “The first two stages are localized in the prostate. Stages three and four are advanced, meaning the cancer has spread nearby.”
Dwight Jackson, a Jamaican immigrant who lives in Milwaukee and is the owner/operator of Pepper Pot Restaurant located on 42nd and Capitol Drive, was diagnosed in his forties. He is now a prostate cancer survivor whose life was saved by Dr. Jacobsohn. Jackson said he had multiple male relatives previously diagnosed with prostate cancer. Like others in early stages, he experienced no symptoms. “I went for a physical in 2015 and found out my PSA increased a miniscule amount, but then the next year, it went from 3.5 to 3.9,” Jackson said. He then had a biopsy confirming the prostate cancer diagnosis.
“My father and grandfather died of prostate cancer, and my uncle had surgery,” Jackson said. “I thought I was destined to get it, but it was a different feeling when the doctor told me I had it.”
After being diagnosed in January 2015, Jackson visited Froedert for robotic surgery the following summer.
“The procedure only took about 4 and a half hours,” Jackson said. He has remained cancer free ever since.
“I recently saw Dr. Jacobsohn and we discussed the cuts and incisions from the surgery,” Jackson said. Dwight follows up regularly with Dr. Jacobsohn as do all prostate cancer patients/survivors to have PSA tests.
Dr. Jacobsohn said that although it’s best to detect prostate cancer early, there are treatments available for more advanced stages.
“For advanced disease, androgen deprivation and chemotherapy and a wide variety of clinical trials that are open for many patients,” Jacobsohn said. “Prostate cancer impacts the ability to control urination or maintain an erection, so we measure those factors after surgery.”
He added that men with no family history or other risk factors of prostate cancer should get screened yearly starting around age 45 or 50. But if you’re African American and/or have a family history of prostate cancer, screenings may start as early as 40.
“The initial screen is a physical exam and a 10-minute PSA blood test,” he said. “If you’re 50 and the test is normal, we may tell you to test again in a few years, but if you’re 55, we may change it to annual,” Jacobsohn said.