How is prostate cancer screened?

Staying on top of health screenings means catching conditions early and prostate cancer is no exception.

“Most men with prostate cancer have no symptoms and prostate cancer is detected with routine screening,” says Dr. Bharat K. Shah, an internal medicine doctor at Advocate Medical Group in Chicago.

Dr. Shah says early symptoms of prostate cancer may include:

  • Frequency of urination
  • Urgency of urination
  • Frequent nighttime urination
  • Dribbling or blood in the urine

“However, these symptoms are not specific to prostate cancer. The same symptoms can occur with other urologic conditions like an enlarged prostate or infection,” Dr. Shah says.

Screening for prostate cancer is done using a blood test called a prostate specific antigen, or PSA, and digital rectal exam, according to Dr. Shah.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that the decision to screen for prostate cancer in men 55-69 be an individual one, taking into consideration the potential harms of treatment, such as erectile dysfunction and incontinence, as well as other individual factors. As with all health screenings, you should talk to your doctor about what is right for you.

“Screening is done after discussion with your primary care physician about your risk factors,” Dr. Shah says.

Screening is not recommended after age 70 or if a person’s life expectancy is less than ten years, he explains.

When it comes to those PSA values, Shah says there is no set cut off point for a PSA value that can tell for sure if a man does or does not have prostate cancer. Doctors recommend further testing when PSA values are above 2.5 to 4.0.

“Elevated PSA does not always mean you have prostate cancer. It can be elevated in other conditions like enlarged prostate,” says Dr. Shah.

The actual diagnosis of prostate cancer is made by ultrasound or MRI guided prostate biopsy.

Now is the perfect time to make an appointment with a primary care physician. Whether you live in Illinois or Wisconsin, it’s easy to find a doctor near you. 

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