Sen. Tillis’ prostate cancer diagnosis a reminder to get regular physicals, talk with your doctor, UNC expert says

North Carolina news

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WNCN) – Sen. Thom Tillis’ work at the United States Capitol will come to a pause next week as he undergoes prostate cancer surgery in North Carolina. He said he had no symptoms when diagnosed after an annual physical that included a Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) test.

“Prostate cancer is quite common, and a certain number of men who are in their 50s will have an abnormal PSA test if they decide to have that test with their doctor. That will then lead them to go down the path of a biopsy,” said Dr. Ethan Basch, Chief of the Division of Oncology at UNC School of Medicine and Physician-in-Chief at the N.C. Cancer Hospital.

While he can’t comment on Tillis’s diagnosis, Basch did explain the typical next steps.

“Often in a biopsy, to look at the tissue itself, the prostate itself, is the next step. And then based upon that, a shared decision can be made about whether or not to have surgery, radiation, or continue to watch.”

Tillis said he did have a biopsy and has opted for surgery. According to the Mayo Clinic, patients can normally resume their daily routine in four to six weeks.

Basch reminded men to have discussions about screening for prostate cancer with their doctor.

“For men who are in their 50s or 60s, generally it’s recommended by guidelines to have a discussion about pluses and minuses of having a blood test for prostate cancer. For men younger than that, if they have a family history or if the patient is African-American, then at that younger age there should be a discussion about testing,” he said.

Tillis turned 60 last August, so he falls within those guidelines. For men older than 70, Basch said a PSA test is not recommended.

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