Obesity Hinders Prostate Cancer Detection

Finding highlights need for rigorous screening in heavier patients

Please note: This article was published more than one year ago. The facts and conclusions presented may have since changed and may no longer be accurate. And "More information" links may no longer work. Questions about personal health should always be referred to a physician or other health care professional.

En Español

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 11, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Doctors may have more difficulty in detecting prostate cancer in obese men, which could lead to delayed diagnosis and increased risk of death, researchers say.

A study led by experts at Duke University Medical Center found that doctors may be 20 percent to 25 percent less likely to identify prostate cancer in obese men. Doctors need to be aware of this and be especially thorough when examining obese men for prostate cancer, the study authors recommended.

"Diagnosing prostate cancer is a bit like finding a needle in a haystack. The bigger the haystack you have, the harder it is to find the needle, and in this case, we may be missing cancers in obese men," principal investigator Dr. Stephen Freedland, an assistant professor in Duke's department of surgery-urology, said in a prepared statement.

He and his colleagues reviewed the medical records of 1,400 men who had their prostrates removed after being diagnosed with prostate cancer. The average weight of obese men's prostate glands was 40 grams, compared to a normal weight of 20 to 30 grams. An enlarged prostate increases the risk that a biopsy will fail to detect cancer, the experts say.

In addition, they note that it is more difficult to perform digital rectal exams on obese men compared with thinner men.

The study appears in the February issue of the Journal of Urology.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about prostate cancer.

SOURCE: Duke University, news release, Jan. 9, 2006

Robert Preidt

Last Updated: