What is Prostate Cancer Screening?

February 16, 2021

Prostate cancer is a significant health problem in the United States with about one in nine men diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, excluding including skin cancer. It is also one of the leading causes of cancer death among men. Prostate cancer develops mainly in older men and in African-American men. About six cases in ten are diagnosed in men aged 65 or older.

Prostate cancer is a cancer that occurs in the prostate (a small walnut-shaped gland in men that produces the seminal fluid that nourishes and transports sperm). Prostate cancer begins when cells in the prostate gland start to grow uncontrollably. Prostate cancer oftentimes does not cause symptoms in the early stages.

The goal of screening for prostate cancer is to rule out cancer or to find cancer early, before it spreads, and treat it.

Two tests that are commonly used to screen for prostate cancer are the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test and the digital rectal exam (DRE) which is performed by a provider in office.

A blood test called a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test measures the level of PSA in the blood. PSA is a substance made by the prostate. The levels of PSA in the blood can be higher in men who have prostate cancer. The PSA level may also be elevated in other conditions that affect the prostate.

A digital rectal exam (DRE) is a quick physical examination of your prostate. The examination includes a provider inserting a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to feel the prostate for anything abnormal.

It is important that all men undergo both the PSA and DRE for prostate cancer screening annually. Typically this is done at certain ages:
– Age 50 for men who are at average risk of prostate cancer.
– Age 45 for men at high risk of developing prostate cancer. High risk includes African Americans and men who have a first-degree relative (father or brother) diagnosed with prostate cancer at age of 65 or younger.
– Age 40 for men at even higher risk. Higher risk includes men with more than one first-degree relative who had prostate cancer at age 65 or younger.

If you have any concerns about your prostate health or need your annual prostate cancer screening exam, please contact Austin Urology Institute at (512) 694-8888 to schedule a consultation with a provider.