Post originally published September, 2022.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among American men, outside of skin cancer. Because prostate cancer generally grows slowly, some men may have the disease without ever knowing it.
The majority of prostate cancer cases show no symptoms when the disease is in its early stages, which is why prostate screening can be an important part of preventative care. Early detection of prostate cancer can lead to more effective treatment and better outcomes.
Your risk for prostate cancer will help to determine when you should start getting prostate screenings and how frequently you should get them. The American Cancer Society recommends discussions regarding screenings take place at the following ages:
- Age 50 for men at average risk who are expected to live at least 10 more years
- Age 45 for men at high risk – including African American men and those with a father or brother diagnosed with prostate cancer younger than age 65
- Age 40 for men at the highest risk – including those with more than one first-degree relative (father or brother) who had prostate cancer younger than age 65
Types of Prostate Cancer Screenings
Both of the most common screening tests for prostate cancer – prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test and digital rectal exam (DRE) – increase the chances of finding prostate cancer at an earlier stage when it is more treatable. While these tests look for the signs of prostate cancer, further testing – like a prostate biopsy – will be required to confirm a suspected diagnosis of cancer.
There are risks and benefits to screening for prostate cancer – talk to your healthcare provider to decide whether screening is right for you.
Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test
- Measures the amount of PSA in the blood – a higher level may indicate prostate cancer
- PSA levels can be affected by other factors, so not always a clear indicator of cancer
Digital rectal exam (DRE)
- Healthcare provider inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to feel for enlargement of the prostate, bumps or hard areas that might indicate cancer
- Less effective than PSA blood test at finding cancer, but can find cancers in men who have normal PSA levels
If the results of your PSA or DRE test are abnormal, your healthcare provider may suggest:
- Waiting and having a second PSA test
- A different type of test (digital rectal exam, special types of PSA tests, other lab tests, imaging test of the prostate gland) to gather more information, before moving forward with a biopsy
- A prostate biopsy, which can also tell how likely it is that any found cancer will grow and spread quickly
Knowledge Is Power
Just because you are diagnosed with prostate cancer doesn’t necessarily mean you need to receive treatment. In some cases, your healthcare provider may recommend active surveillance or observation, which means that your healthcare provider will watch your cancer closely and treat it if symptoms begin.
To learn more about prostate cancer screening, contact our Fairfield Healthcare Professionals Urology office at 740-689-4945.
Source: American Cancer Society