Early detection of prostate cancer can be crucial to its treatment success. While there are many factors that can influence prostate cancer, your risk of prostate cancer still increases as you age. In your 40s is a good time to start thinking about getting screened for prostate cancer. What should you know about early detection of prostate cancer?

Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Blood Test

One of the common tests that help determine if you have prostate cancer or are at risk for prostate cancer is the PSA (prostate-specific antigen) blood test. This is a simple blood test that measures a protein in the blood that is only made by the prostate cells. The amount of this antigen in the blood will be able to tell your doctor if you either have prostate cancer or are at risk for it. A normal amount is less than four nanograms per milliliter of blood; however, several things can affect your PSA level, such as old age, different medicines, and whether or not you have ejaculated recently. Generally, the higher your PSA level, the higher your chance of having prostate cancer, although this will not be true for every man.

Digital Rectal Exam (DRE)

This is another common test to determine if you have prostate cancer. It’s a simple test that involves a doctor manually checking your prostate through the rectum. Your doctor will be able to feel if the prostate is enlarged or if you have any abnormal growths on your prostate. Sometimes tumors can be felt this way, although not all problems with the prostate can be detected with this exam. Your doctor may choose to do this exam in combination with the PSA blood test.

Minimal and Successful Prostate Cancer Treatment

Prostate cancer is generally a slow-growing cancer, which means that if you detect it early on, you may be able to have minimal and successful treatment with fewer side effects. If you are found to have prostate cancer, you and your doctor will discuss what treatment options are best for you and how they will affect your health. Remember, it’s always best to catch prostate cancer earlier rather than later, or not at all. Treatment success rates with early detection of prostate cancer are high.

More Prostate Cancer Treatment Options

With early detection of prostate cancer, you’ll also have more options for your treatment. When you are able to choose what treatment is best for you, this can help you to feel in control of your health and feel more empowered about the choices that you’ll make with your doctor. You’ll also have more time to make effective treatment decisions—you won’t feel pressured as you might if diagnosed with a more severe case of prostate cancer to make the best decision to begin treating the cancer now.

Early detection of prostate cancer is crucial to treating prostate cancer successfully. As your risk increases as you age, it’s important to discuss screening options with your doctor and to follow up with the results.