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Who Should Get Screened for Prostate Cancer? A Guide for Men and Their Doctors

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Prostate cancer is a serious health concern that affects millions of men worldwide. With early detection, it’s highly treatable, but unfortunately, there are still many misconceptions and uncertainties about who should get screened for the disease. That’s why we’ve created this guide to help men and their doctors navigate the screening process and make informed decisions about their prostate health. Whether you’re at high risk or just want to stay proactive about your well-being, this post will provide valuable insights into when and how often to get checked for prostate cancer. So let’s dive in!

Introduction to Prostate Cancer Screening

Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer in American men, and the second leading cause of cancer death in men. The American Cancer Society estimates that about 1 man in 8 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime.

Prostate cancer screening is a way to find the disease early, when it may be easier to treat. The main screening test for prostate cancer is called a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test.

PSA is a protein made by the prostate gland. A small amount of PSA is normally present in the blood. However, levels of PSA may be elevated in men with prostate cancer or other conditions affecting the prostate gland, such as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).

There are other tests that may be used to screen for prostate cancer, including digital rectal exams (DREs) and transrectal ultrasound (TRUS). However, the PSA test is the only screening test that has been shown to reduce mortality from prostate cancer.

The decision to screen for prostate cancer should be made after a discussion between the patient and his doctor about the potential benefits and risks of screening, as well as the patient’s preferences.

Who Should Get Screened?

There is no one answer to this question as different men will have different risk factors for prostate cancer. However, there are some general guidelines that can help men and their doctors decide if screening is right for them.

Age is the biggest risk factor for prostate cancer, so all men over the age of 50 should discuss screening with their doctor. Men with a family history of prostate cancer or other risk factors may need to start screening at an earlier age.

African-American men are also at higher risk for prostate cancer and should discuss screening with their doctor starting at age 45. 

If you have any concerns about your risk for prostate cancer, talk to your doctor about whether screening is right for you.

What Tests Are Available?

There are two main types of tests that are used to screen for prostate cancer: the digital rectal exam (DRE) and the prostate specific antigen (PSA) test.

The DRE is a physical exam where the doctor inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum and feels for any abnormalities in the prostate gland. This test is not always accurate, but it can be helpful in detecting some early stage cancers.

The PSA test measures the level of PSA in a man’s blood. PSA is a protein produced by the prostate gland, and levels can be elevated in men with prostate cancer. However, this test is not perfect, as elevated PSA levels can also be caused by other conditions such as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).

If either of these tests detects an abnormality, further testing will be needed to confirm whether or not cancer is present. This may include a biopsy, where a small sample of tissue is removed from the prostate and examined under a microscope.

What Are the Benefits and Risks of Prostate Cancer Screening?

Screening can help identify prostate cancer at earlier stages when it is more curable. Some men with very early stages of prostate cancer maybe eligible for observation instead of active treatment.  Screening can also help find aggressive cancers that need to be treated right away. 

However, screening has risks as well as benefits. One risk is false positive results. This happens when a test says you have cancer when you don’t. A false positive result can lead to anxiety and unnecessary tests or treatment. Another risk is false negative results. This happens when a test says you don’t have cancer but you really do. False negatives usually happen with PSA tests. Either way, it’s important to follow up with your doctor if you get abnormal results from either test so they can figure out what’s going on.

 

How Often Should I Be Screened?

There is no one answer to how often men should be screened for prostate cancer. The decision on how often to screen should be made between the man and his doctor, taking into account the man’s age, health history, family history, and personal preferences.

Some men may choose to have yearly screenings, while others may opt to screen every other year or every few years. There is no wrong answer, and ultimately it is up to the individual man to decide what is best for him.

If you are a man over the age of 50, or if you are a man under 50 with risk factors for prostate cancer (such as a family history of the disease), it is important to have a conversation with your doctor about whether or not screening makes sense for you. Prostate cancer is a serious disease, but it is also treatable if caught early. Screening can help catch prostate cancer early when it is most treatable.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Prostate Cancer Screening

If you’re a man over the age of 50, or if you’re a man under the age of 50 with a family history of prostate cancer, you may be wondering if you should get screened for the disease. While there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, it’s important to have a conversation with your doctor about your risk factors and whether or not prostate cancer screening is right for you.

Some questions you may want to ask your doctor about prostate cancer screening include:

What are my risk factors for developing prostate cancer?

Am I considered high risk?

What are the benefits of being screened?

What are the risks and side effects of the screening tests?

Are there any other steps I can take to reduce my risk of developing prostate cancer?

Based on my individual situation, do you recommend that I get screened for prostate cancer?

Conclusion

Prostate cancer screening is an important topic for men and their doctors to discuss, as it can help detect the disease early and increase the chances of successful treatment. This guide has provided information on who should get screened for prostate cancer, what age group is most likely to be affected, and which tests are available. By understanding these details and discussing them with your doctor, you can make an informed decision about whether or not to pursue screenings. With the right knowledge and preparation, you can take control of your health in regards to this serious disease.

If you have additional questions, please call Dr. Shah at the Prostate Cancer Institute of Clearwater Radiation Oncology.

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