September 01, 2009 15:10 ET

September Means Back to School and Prostate Cancer Awareness: Tips From Dr. Samadi, Chief of Robotics, The Mount Sinai Medical Center

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - September 1, 2009) - September signifies the start of fall, back to school and back to homework. September is also National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. The awareness month was proclaimed by President Bush in 2003, and bolstered later that year by former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, a prostate cancer survivor, who became the spokesman for the National Prostate Cancer Coalition. According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in men and the second leading cause of cancer death in men. The National Cancer Institute estimates that there will be about 192,280 new cases diagnosed with prostate cancer in United States in 2009, and 27,360 will die from the disease. Dr. David B. Samadi, Chief of Robotics and Minimally Invasive Surgery at The Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, encourages men this September, and year-round, to get educated and do their homework on prostate cancer.

Ignorance isn't bliss, but knowledge is power, says Dr. Samadi. Prostate cancer, also known as the "silent killer," exhibits no symptoms unlike other cancers. However with increased awareness, the death rate is going down as men are coming in for regular screenings, monitoring their results, all resulting in the disease being detected earlier.

This increased awareness trend was evident in recent weeks with the announcement that Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) was diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer after an annual physical revealed an elevated PSA level, which led to a biopsy confirming prostate cancer. He subsequently underwent prostate removal surgery and, since the cancer was caught early, his prognosis is excellent.

Screening tests, which include Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) and Digital Rectal Exams (DRE) are not foolproof, but staying on top of fluctuations can help detect prostate cancer in its early stages. Partnering with your doctor to monitor these fluctuations and any other risk factors is key to successfully staying ahead of this disease.

With all of the advances in surgery and technology, men do not need to fear these exams and a diagnosis of prostate cancer. "A diagnosis of prostate cancer is not necessarily a death sentence," says Dr. Samadi, who has successfully treated over 2,000 patients in his practice with robotic prostatectomy. If caught early enough, the cure rate could be over 95% successful.

But what may hold some men back from opting for surgery is the anticipated downtime and side effects of surgery. Dr. Samadi counsels that today's robotic surgery is not like the traditional open surgery in the past. Utilizing the da Vinci surgery robot, Samadi controls the robotic arms to precisely and accurately remove the prostate gland, bloodlessly, with a higher level of magnification and definition. This allows the surrounding delicate nerves, those responsible for continence and sexual function to be spared. Hospital stays and recoveries are shorter, thereby affording patients a better quality of life.

Current guidelines encourage prostate cancer screening in men age 50 or older. High-risk groups, such as African Americans or those men with a positive family history, are encouraged to have screenings at age 40. This is why Dr. Samadi would like to encourage all men to associate September with prostate cancer awareness and get screened. Awareness and education is the key to passing this all too important test with flying colors.

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