We have talked about how important it is to communicate about prostate health, prostate cancer, and men’s health generally. That is because silence and stigma around these issues can result in men feeling uncomfortable about these subjects. Therefore, leading to them letting prostate issues go unchecked. Many men feel uncomfortable going to the doctor for prostate screenings or even discussing the subject with family or friends.
After a certain age, not going to get prostate screenings on a regular basis can be dangerous. That is because there is no true and tried method for preventing prostate cancer. Research has been inconclusive and at times even contradictory. Besides trying to lead a healthy lifestyle, with a balanced diet and regular exercise, there is no known surefire prevention for prostate cancer. Not to mention, being generally healthy does not guarantee not developing the said condition, it might simply reduce the chances of getting prostate cancer.
So what does this mean? It means there is no known way to prevent prostate cancer. And like with many other types of cancer, the best way to deal with it is to catch it early. That is to say, the only way to catch it early is to get regular prostate cancer screenings from about the age of 50, or earlier if you happen to be someone at higher risk than others.
If you’d like to know more about whether you might be at higher risk of developing prostate cancer, check out our post on prostate cancer symptoms.
What is a prostate cancer screening?
Generally speaking, a cancer screening is the act of looking for signs of cancer before it causes symptoms. So the goal of a prostate cancer screening, for instance, is to find any cancer that may be at higher risk of spreading early. Before it has a chance to spread.
Although there is no standardized test to screen for prostate cancer, below we describe the two most commonly used tests:
- Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) Test: This is a type of blood test that involves measuring the patient’s PSA levels. The prostate is the only organ responsible for making PSA. High levels of PSA in the blood can be indicative of a man who has prostate cancer. However, PSA can become elevated due to other factors. For example: other medical procedures, medication, other non-cancerous prostate conditions like an enlarged prostate or an infection. Furthermore, high PSA levels don’t necessarily mean a patient has prostate cancer, but it might. Often times, if PSA levels are high doctors may recommend a biopsy to rule out the possibility of cancer.
- Digital Rectal Examination (DRE): This exam involves a healthcare provider inserting a gloved and lubricated finger into a man’s rectum. They then feel the prostate for any abnormalities. For instance, abnormal growth or shape, which at times can be indicative of cancer, but does not guarantee it. Although this test is common, the US Preventive Services Task Force does not recommend it. Due to the fact that there is a lack of evidence supporting the benefits of DREs. PSA blood tests are much more recommendable.
Get in touch
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.