The American Cancer Society predicts that nearly 175,000 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed this year in the United States, making it the most common cancer among men outside of skin cancer. Like any cancer, early detection is key, which is where prostate cancer screening comes in.
At Urology Center of Florida, under the experienced guidance of Dr. Craig Herman and Dr. Steven C. Kester, our team understands the importance of prostate cancer screening. Through regular screening, we help our patients in Pompano Beach stay one step ahead of this potentially serious disease.
Here’s a look at prostate cancer, who should be screened, and when you should start.
Prostate cancer basics
As we noted, prostate cancer is the most common male-specific cancer, with 1 in 9 men affected. The disease develops in your prostate, which is a small gland that produces some of the fluid found in your ejaculate.
There are several types of prostate cancer, but most are adenocarcinomas, which means they develop in the cells of the gland. Other types of cancers can develop in your prostate, including sarcomas, small cell carcinomas, and transitional cell carcinomas, but these are rare.
In most cases, prostate cancer grows slowly and doesn’t present any immediate danger, but the disease can progress rapidly in other cases, which makes regular screening a good idea.
Prostate cancer largely affects men after the age of 50, with 6 in 10 cases diagnosed in men over the age of 65. There are other risk factors, such as a family history of prostate cancer (a father or a brother), and the disease affects African American men at higher rates.
Screening for prostate cancer
One of the questions we get most often is when our patients should start screening for prostate cancer. We generally recommend that after the age of 50, men should start considering the screening process. Of course, your history and risk factors play a role in whether you should be tested earlier or more frequently, and we thoroughly evaluate your unique situation before we recommend a timeline.
The screening process itself is done one of two ways (or both):
PSA stands for prostate specific antigen and this quick and easy blood test measures antigen levels in your blood, which may indicate the presence of a tumor.
Digital rectal exam
We also perform a digital exam in which we manually check for the presence of an enlarged prostate or tumor.
It’s important to note that these tests are only first steps and can be inconclusive. For example, if you don’t have any symptoms and your risk factors are low, yet your PSA count is high, we often take a wait-and-see approach with regular follow-up testing. Our goal with prostate cancer is often one of awareness, but not putting you through unnecessary treatments.
If, however, we do feel something during your digital rectal exam, we investigate further through a biopsy and advanced imaging.
The regularity with which you should be tested for prostate cancer depends upon previous testing and your risk factors, so there’s no one-size-fits-all timeline for men.
That said, getting your first screening with us is important so that we can establish a baseline of your prostate health. To get started, please give us a call or use the convenient online scheduling tool to set up an appointment.