About Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the U.S., with about 1 man in 8 being diagnosed during his lifetime. Screening can help find prostate cancer earlier when it’s more treatable. Early detection through screening generally means an excellent prognosis, so it’s important to take screening seriously.
Screening can reduce prostate cancer mortality in some men, but not all men may benefit from it. The decision to get screened is one every man should make with his provider only after discussing the potential risks and benefits.
Should I get screened? If so, when?
The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends that men at average risk for prostate cancer who are expected to live at least 10 more years should have a discussion with their provider at age 50 about screening.
Screening for higher-risk individuals
Black men and men who have one or more first-degree relatives diagnosed with prostate cancer before age 65 are at high risk for prostate cancer and should discuss screening with their provider at age 40 to 45.
What are my screening options?
The screening tests below look for possible signs of prostate cancer, but they can’t tell for sure if you actually have prostate cancer. If something abnormal is found during your screening, you will likely need a prostate biopsy to determine whether you have cancer.
Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test
The primary screening method for prostate cancer is the PSA test, a simple blood test that monitors the level of prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a protein produced by the prostate. Prostate cancer can cause elevated PSA levels.
Keep in mind that if you have elevated PSA levels, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have prostate cancer. A number of factors other than cancer can raise PSA levels, including an enlarged prostate, older age, infection or inflammation.
Learn more about the PSA test.
Digital rectal exam
The other screening method that may be used is the digital rectal exam. During the exam, a doctor or nurse inserts a gloved finger into the rectum to check for an enlarged prostate, lumps or abnormal areas.
Learn more about the digital rectal exam.
Symptoms of prostate cancer
Early prostate cancer usually causes no symptoms. However, more advanced prostate cancers can sometimes cause symptoms. These symptoms may include trouble urinating, more frequent urination, painful urination or ejaculation, blood in urine or semen, and bone pain.
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it does not mean that you have prostate cancer. All of these symptoms can be caused by other health problems. Still, it’s important to speak with your provider about any symptoms that last longer than two weeks. It could very well be nothing, but it’s best to know for sure what’s going on in your body so that you can get whatever care you may need.