In recent years there has been a much higher cancer survival rate, and this goes for prostate cancer too. This is in large part due to earlier diagnosis and detection. Detecting prostate cancer early can have a very significant impact increasing the chances for a successful recovery.
One of the most important factors in achieving early detection is frequent screening for prostate cancer. The goal of screening for cancer entails looking for cancer before it causes symptoms to the subject. In the context of prostate cancer screening, this means finding cancers that may be at high risk of spreading if they go untreated. Finding them early before they spread is crucial.
When should you go for a prostate cancer screening?
It is important to note that before going for a screening, it’s always best to make an informed decision. Speak to your healthcare provider about prostate cancer screenings. Although it’s generally a safe process, it does carry with it a few uncertainties and risks. The results are predominantly beneficial, however.
So when should you get a prostate cancer screening?
If you are 50 or higher it’s a good idea to start going for screenings. At this age, with a life expectancy of at least another 10 years, most men are at average risk of developing prostate cancer. It’s a good time to get in the habit of regular screenings.
Men at high risk and at the age of 45 to higher, or at even higher risk at the age of 40 or higher are highly recommended to get screened. One is considered at high risk if they have a first-degree relative who has been diagnosed with prostate cancer at younger than 65. The risk is even higher if there is more than one first-degree relative diagnosed with prostate cancer.
The process of detecting prostate cancer
What kinds of tests do doctors perform to ascertain whether someone has prostate cancer or not? Below are two of the most common tests doctors perform to screen for prostate cancer:
- Prostate Specific Antigen Test (or PSA): This is essentially a blood test that measures the level of PSA in the blood. The prostate is responsible for making PSA (prostate specific antigen); this substance tends to be higher in men who have prostate cancer. However, it is not exclusive to cancer, since it can also become elevated due to other prostate conditions, as well as, other factors.
- Digital Rectal Examination (or DRE): This test involves a doctor using a gloved and lubricated finger to examine a man’s prostate. They insert said digit into the subject’s rectum and feel the prostate for any abnormalities.
How often do doctors recommend screenings?
This depends a lot on the results of a given screening. If a screening result indicates no cancer being present, usually one goes by the PSA levels in the blood.
When, for instance, a PSA test resulted in under 2.5ng/mL the subject may only need retesting every 2 years or so. If the results are 2.5ng/mL or higher, however, it is recommended to get tested yearly.
If you find you are having trouble urinating, or you find yourself needing to urinate more often than usual, do not hesitate to contact a medical professional. These can be early signs of prostate cancer.
Check our resources section for further information. Where you can also find inspiration from success and survival stories, or we can help you connect with a prostate cancer survivor. If you have any questions, or just want to talk, call us at our toll-free hotline: 1(833)HEAL-MEN. You are not alone in this journey. We are here to help guide and support you through it, every step of the way.