AdventHealth Health Hub: Prostate Cancer Screening

One simple test can save your life!


While it largely affects older men, prostate cancer can develop at any age. And according to the American Cancer Society, it’s the second cause of cancer death among men in the United States. The good news is that most men diagnosed with prostate cancer, especially in its early stages, can survive it. September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, and physicians, survivors and families are uniting to spread the word about prevention. The key is detecting this slow-growing cancer early, when it’s most treatable. Here’s what you need to know.

When to Get Screened for Prostate Cancer

The vast majority of men with prostate cancer have no symptoms. That’s why screening is so important. There really isn’t a hard and fast rule on when prostate cancer screenings should start or which screening methods should be used. It’s ultimately up to you and your primary care physician to talk about your prostate cancer risk and to create a screening plan that’s right for you.

If you experience any of the following symptoms, you should talk with your doctor right away.

• Back pain
• Blood in your urine
• Changes in your urine flow or frequency
• Pain while urinating
• Pelvic pain

When no symptoms are present, you should begin conversations with your doctor about prostate cancer screening at the following ages:

Age 40 for men with a high risk. Factors that may increase your risk factor include: 

• Being African American
• Having multiple first-degree relatives with prostate cancer
• A history of prostate cancer in family members under age 55
• A family history of metastatic or lethal adenocarcinomas (prostate, GI, breast, ovarian or pancreatic cancer) spanning multiple generations

Age 55 for men with average risk

Prostate Cancer Screening Tests

There are a number of tests available to help detect prostate cancer. Discuss which option is right for you with your physician.

• Prostate-Specific Antigen Test (PSA)
This test measures the level of PSA, or prostate specific antigen, in your blood. PSA is made by all prostate tissue but tends to be higher in those with prostate cancer. Since the PSA test is non-invasive, it’s a great place to start. If your PSA level is high, you and your doctor can decide what further tests are needed.

• Digital Rectal Exam (DRE)
A DRE is a physical examination where your doctor will check your prostate for lumps (nodules) or anything unusual.

• Prostate MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
This imaging evaluation is very accurate in the identification of clinically significant prostate cancers. This study is typically used when the PSA is elevated to determine whether a biopsy is necessary or to confirm the accuracy of a negative biopsy result.

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