Screening for Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer patients almost always have an excellent prognosis if their cancer is caught early. Consequently, experts recommend that men speak with their doctors to develop a regular screening plan for prostate cancer.

Screening guidelines will differ according to a man’s individual risk factors.

What tests are used to screen for prostate cancer?

There are two methods of screening for prostate cancer: the PSA blood test and a digital rectal exam.

PSA test

The prostate specific antigen, or PSA, blood test measures the level of PSA, a substance made by the prostate that may be found in an increased amount in the blood of men who have prostate cancer. PSA levels may also be high in men who have an infection or inflammation of the prostate.

The PSA is the primary screening technique for prostate cancer. Siteman physicians pioneered this test and have successfully developed the free PSA test as a way of increasing the accuracy of cancer detection.

Digital rectal exam

During a digital rectal exam, the doctor or nurse inserts a gloved finger into the rectum to check for an enlarged prostate, lumps or abnormal areas.

What are the screening guidelines for men of average risk?

If your doctor determines that you have an average risk of prostate cancer, you will be advised to begin PSA screening at age 45. Based on your initial reading, as well as your personal wishes, your doctor will recommend a follow-up screening schedule.

What are the screening guidelines for men of above-average risk?

African-American men and men with a family history of prostate cancer are at a higher risk of developing the disease. These men are advised to begin regular PSA screening at age 40.