It’s Men’s Health Month, and prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men. In fact, there are over 2 million prostate cancer survivors currently living in the United States.
Early detection of prostate cancer enables doctors to identify prostate cancer in early stages when it may be easier to treat.
In most cases, prostate cancer symptoms are not apparent in the early stages of the disease. The symptoms may be different for each man and any one of these symptoms may be caused by other conditions. As a result, routine screenings in the form of digital rectal exams (DRE) and prostate specific androgen (PSA) tests are important:
- Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test: PSA is made by cells in the prostate gland. If a man’s PSA levels are above a 4, this could mean prostate cancer is present. The higher the PSA level, the higher the chance of prostate cancer. This test is not used to diagnose prostate cancer. If results of the PSA are concerning, a biopsy will often be done. Sometimes, a high PSA level can be an indication of other conditions, not related to prostate cancer.
- Early Digital Rectal Exam (DRE): During this test, a doctor inserts a gloved finger into the rectum to check the shape, size and texture of the prostate. If PSA levels are normal, but a doctor finds abnormalities during the DRE, further tests can be performed to detect prostate cancer.
The American Cancer Society recommends that men make an informed decision with their doctor about whether to be tested for prostate cancer, beginning at age 50. Men with one or more risk factors for prostate cancer, such as a family history, should consult with their physician about whether to start regular screening earlier.
Visit our webinar about Prostate Cancer, for more information about PSA and Gleason grading, treatment options and managing side effects after treatment.