Even though prostate cancer typically grows very slowly or not at all, it is still advisable to start screening early before the symptoms appear. Early prostate cancer screening may help to discover any aggressive type of the cancer and ensure prompt treatment. Today, there two most effective and recommended tests for screening are prostate specific antigen (PSA) test and digital rectal exam (DRE).
All contemporary recommendations for prostate cancer screening incorporate the prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels in serum because there is convincing evidence that PSA-based screening detects many cases of asymptomatic prostate cancer. Studies also have shown that a vast majority of men who have asymptomatic cancer detected through the PSA test have tumors that either will fail to progress or will grow so slowly that they would have shown no symptoms for the patient’s lifetime. If your PSA level is high, your urologist will recommend either waiting for a period and then repeating the test or doing a prostate biopsy to confirm if you have the cancer. When interpreting your PSA results, your urologist will consider many factors, such as race, age and family history.
Digital Rectal Exam (DRE)
During DRE, the urologist inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to feel for any hard areas or bumps on the prostate, which might indicate cancer. The exam may be slightly uncomfortable, but is never painful and just takes a short time. While the digital rectal exam may be less effective than the PSA in detecting prostate cancer, it sometimes can detect cancer in men with normal PSA levels. For this reason it is a critical component of prostate cancer screening.
What next after screening?
PSA and DRE tests are simply used to detect the warning signs of prostate cancer, but in reality they do not actually confirm if you have cancer. If the test results are abnormal, your urologist will use a prostate biopsy for confirmation. If there is cancer, a prostate biopsy also will help determine the aggressiveness and influence the urologist’s decision as to whether or not you need treatment. Not every patient must be treated and those with non-aggressive cancer will just be actively monitored. The decision on whether you get treated is very important and is usually based on results of these tests. For more information on early prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment, visit the site, St Pete urology.