National Prostate Health Month (NPHM), also known as National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, is observed every September in the United States (US) by health experts, health advocates, and individuals concerned with men’s prostate health and prostate cancer.
Other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men. The American Cancer Society’s estimates for prostate cancer in the US for 2021 are:
• About 248,530 new cases of prostate cancer
• About 34,130 deaths from prostate cancer
Once someone is diagnosed with prostate cancer, the patient and their doctor continue to check the prostate- specific antigen, or PSA, which can be measured through a routine blood test. A rise in PSA can indicate whether the cancer is progressing, but it cannot show where the cancer has spread.
If the cancer is found to have spread to other parts of the body, also known as metastatic prostate cancer, it might be important to learn about a biomarker called prostate-specific membrane antigen, or PSMA, that can tell patients and their physicians so much more. A biomarker is a characteristic of a patient’s cancer that can be measured and provides a doctor more information about the cancer.
PSMA is found in more than 80% of men with prostate cancer. Although PSA and PSMA are both important biomarkers, they indicate different things.
PSMA is identified with a positron emission tomography scan (an imaging scan) and can show a patient where the cancer has spread. PSMA can help give the doctor additional information to assess the progression of the prostate cancer and help inform the decision that both the patient and doctor will make regarding a treatment plan.
Now there is a new campaign launching to help people learn more and better understand what PSMA is and what it can tell a patient and doctor about the patient’s metastatic prostate cancer.