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Screening for Prostate Cancer

Regular testing for prostate cancer has been proven to aid in early detection. And the earlier prostate cancer is detected, the better chances for successful treatment and long-term survival.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are the Prostate Cancer Screening Recommendations?

The American Urological Association (AUA) recommends:

  • PSA screening for men under 40 years is not necessary.
  • Routine screening in men between the ages of 40 to 54 years at average risk is typically not recommended.
  • For men younger than 55 years at higher risk, decisions regarding screening should be individualized. Those at higher risk include African American men and those men with a family history of prostate cancer.
  • The greatest benefit of screening appears to be in men ages 55 to 69 years.

For detailed information regarding prostate cancer screening, refer to the American Urological Association’s guidelines or talk to your urologist.

What Is the Prostate Cancer Screening Process?

Testing for prostate cancer involves a simple blood test and physical exam. All in all, it takes only about 10 minutes – a small commitment that could potentially save your life.

Typically, your primary care physician (PCP) does a prostate screening as a routine part of your yearly physical. If a screening is not included, we advise requesting one starting at age 40. Your PCP or urologist will also perform a screening if you are exhibiting any symptoms of prostate cancer.

Doctors test for prostate cancer in two ways:

Prostate Cancer Screening DiagramDigital rectal exam (DRE)

The physician will place a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum and feel the prostate through the rectal wall. This allows the physician to feel the prostate for lumps, nodules, and other abnormalities.

While the DRE may be effective at early detection of colon or rectal cancers, or at catching later-stage prostate cancers, it isn't a reliable method for finding early-stage prostate cancer. The PSA blood test should also be used.

Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test

The PSA test is a routine blood screening that can be performed in a lab, hospital, or your doctor's office. No preparation is necessary, except you may be asked to avoid ejaculation for 48 hours prior. The PSA test can detect high levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a protein produced by the prostate. Elevated levels of PSA are often, but not always, an early indicator of prostate cancer as well as other disorders of the prostate. Likewise, normal levels don't necessarily mean there is no cancer. Learn how PSA levels are used to assess risk for prostate cancer.

What happens after my screening?

If your physician believes that the results of your digital rectal exam or PSA test are cause for concern, you will be referred to a urologist for further testing, including a prostate biopsy. Learn more about how prostate cancer is diagnosed.

Where can I get screened for prostate cancer?

Ask your primary care physician to test you for prostate cancer at your next physical. You may also schedule a screening appointment with one of our experienced urologists.

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