A trip to a hair restoration physician may prove a life-saving measure for some men who would otherwise elude the diagnostic eye of medical professionals.
Martinick Hair Restoration’s Dr Jennifer Martinick said a hair restoration physician can be the first port of medical call for men who generally avoided prostate cancer screening.
Dr Martinick said a routine procedure at the clinics she consulted to was to ask all male patients over 40 to take the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test before she prescribed the hair loss medication, Finasteride.
While this had been routine practice among medically-qualified hair restoration professionals for the past decade, the PSA tests were not normally done in general medical practice for men under 50.
Dr Martinick said test results were best used to show changes in PSA levels over time with sudden elevations pointing to a need for further investigation.
A PSA level of 4.0 or below was considered to be safe among men under 40, however in older men – 65 and above – a PSA reading of up to 5.5 was considered acceptable.
“Despite greater public awareness about men’s health issues, a lot of men remain reluctant to go to their general practitioner for regular health checks for things like prostate cancer,” Dr Martinick said.
“It’s surprising how many men I see who would never consider prostate screening.
“Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in men, yet far too many men ignore the need for screening.
“When diagnosed and treated early these patients usually have a good recovery rate.”
Dr Martinick said the importance of regular screening was highlighted at a clinic she consulted to when a 70-year-old patient’s PSA levels jumped from 5.5 to 8.9 within a year.
The patient was immediately referred to a urologist and a biopsy showed he had an aggressive form of prostate cancer.
The cancer was enclosed in the prostate, however it had progressed to a point where it was ready to spread to other parts of the body.
“This situation highlights just how important it is for men to be screened on an annual basis,” Dr Martinick said.
“Despite the fact that we live in an information era, many men remain unaware of the risks of prostate cancer.”
Dr Martinick said in recent years 15 of her patients, who showed elevated PSA levels in testing, were referred to a urologist.
“I’m positive they benefited from early intervention,” Dr Martinick said.
“In another incident a patient developed a breast lump after taking Finasteride for six months.
“While increased breast size can be a side effect of taking Finasteride, the patient was advised to have a mammogram. This detected a pre-existing breast cancer which would not have been detected if the patient hadn’t been taking the medication.”