According to the National Cancer Society prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men, after skin cancer. Prostate cancer is a slow-growing cancer, which means that early detection can make it possible to stop it. Unfortunately too often, men are not sure if they should get a prostate exam and they put it off until it is too late.
Early Detection is Crucial
As with any cancer, early detection is crucial to survival rates. One man in every seven will get prostate cancer in his lifetime. With early detection, these men will have a greater chance of living a normal life after treatment. The longer the cancer is present, the greater the chance of it spreading to other areas of your body, compounding the treatment issues. It is estimated that in 2017, About 26,730 men will die from prostate cancer.
Types of Testing Available
There are now two types of tests available for the detection of prostate cancer. The first test your doctor will perform is a simple blood test to check the level of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in your blood. Your prostate releases certain chemicals whose levels will be raised in your blood if the chance of cancer is present. A high PSA rating will prompt a digital scan to get a picture of the prostate and surrounding area. If abnormal cells are found, a biopsy will be performed to find out whether or not it is cancer and how advanced the disease has become.
The Second method is through a digital rectal exam (DRE). This test is commonly performed as part of a complete physical for men of the right age. Most often, it is performed to check for any lumps that form as a result of cancer. It may also be done following changes in urination that can indicate an enlarged prostate. Not all conditions associated with the prostate can be detected using this method.
Who Should Be Tested
There is some discussion as to when a prostate test should be given. It is important to discuss this with a doctor who is familiar with you and your family medical history. The American Cancer Society states that any man who is of average risk, which means no immediate family history of prostate cancer, should have a PSA test at the age of fifty. This provides an idea of whether you are at risk or not.
African American men and men who have had either a brother, son or father diagnosed with prostate cancer before the age of 45 should plan on getting a PSA test when they are 45. This will help detect any early-onset cancer that may be present.
High-risk individuals who have had more than one family member diagnosed with prostate cancer should consider getting tested as early as age forty. A prostate exam at this stage will give your doctor a great baseline of PSA levels in your blood so they can monitor any changes.
Once you have had an initial prostate exam, it is important to have it done on a regular basis to make sure there are no changes. If your initial test shows a PSA level of less than 2.5, having a retest every two years should be plenty. If the level is over 2.5, a yearly prostate exam will help keep track of where you stand.
Regardless of risk factors, having at least an initial PSA test will help ease your mind. With something that is so prevalent in our society, staying informed and early detection are your best defense.
Get Tested Now
Boulevard Medical Healthcare wants to help keep you active as long as possible. Contact us today to discuss your need for a prostate exam. A few minutes now can add many years to your life.