Testing for Prostate Cancer: When’s the Right Time?

Beyond skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer among men. On average, 1 in 6 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime. The prostate is a vital part of the male reproductive system and is located just below the bladder. It’s the size of a walnut but when inflammation occurs it can grow to three times that size. It’s important to monitor it and get tested regularly, but when’s the right time? Continue reading to discover the right age for testing and other factors involving awareness when testing for prostate cancer.

Related: What is Prostatitis? 

Types of Testing

Thanks to technological advances, various types of prostate cancer screening tests can now be conducted. One of the primary reasons men make an effort to visit the urologist is to address their prostate, urinary, and sexual health concerns. These professionals provide screenings for some of the most serious diseases that affect men today. The two most common types of testing outside of a self-exam are the PSA, or prostate specific antigen, and the DRE, or digital rectal examination. In spite of the absence of an official prostate cancer test, most people find the PSA to be the most reliable. 

With PSA testing, your health care provider will measure the amount of prostate-specific antigens in your bloodstream as well as their levels. As this number may be elevated by other conditions, it is best to have your health care professional analyze your score. 

Essentially, a DRE consists of a physical examination during which the health care provider feels the prostate by inserting a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum. This method is not recommended due to the lack of beneficial evidence. 

With the advancement of technology over the years, further research into prostate health is now possible. Before a biopsy, most doctors use MRI technology to assess the overall health of the prostate, but for early detection, the PSA as well as routine self examination are recommended.

Related: How to Perform a Testicular Self-Exam

When is the Right Time to Test?

When determining the appropriate time for testing for prostate cancer, a number of factors need to be considered. This will depend on risk factors such as age, diet and genetics. A man’s risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer increases with age. Getting ahead of things is important since this is the main risk factor. On average, the CDC recommends that men between the ages of 55 and 69 who are at average risk undergo routine PSA tests. Males over the age of 70 are not advised to undergo routine testing. 

If you are African American or have a family history of prostate cancer, your chances of developing and being diagnosed with prostate cancer increase. Specifically, African American men are twice as likely to die from prostate cancer, both in low-grade and high-grade cases. African Americans and men of other races, besides Caucasians, are more likely to experience metastasis, or secondary malignant growth near the primary site. 

There is a possibility that nutritional problems may lead to other health conditions that make it difficult for a proper diagnosis to be made. Screening and diagnosis have the potential to cause harm, for example, finding prostate cancer in asymptomatic patients. This may lead to treatment complications and may affect their prognosis since they would have likely survived without treatment. 

The results of a biopsy are also a concern, as they can result in the production of blood in the semen, urinary incontinence, erectile dysfunction, and bowel problems. To calm anxieties caused by prostate cancer being one of the most common medical problems among men today, it is important to note the harmful effects of overdiagnosis.

Importance of Testing

Now that we understand the types of testing, the potential risks, and the risk factors involved, we can examine symptoms, early detection, and the importance of routine testing. As stated previously, some men are asymptomatic, which means they do not present any obvious symptoms of prostate cancer. Men suffering from urinary issues such as difficulty, weakness in flow, pain, or burning, should seek immediate medical attention.

Other symptoms include persistent back pain, hip pain, and pelvic pain. You should keep in mind that these symptoms can also indicate conditions other than prostate cancer, which is why you should discuss your health history with your health professional and undergo regular tests to rule out prostate cancer or begin the treatment process.

As cancer grows slowly over time, early detection is extremely important, especially if you are at risk for diagnosis. Generally, if your PSA level is 2.5 ng/mL or higher, you should be tested on a yearly basis. Moreover, if your levels are lower than those, you may undergo retesting every two years.

Related: 7 Things Every Man Should Know About Prostate Cancer

Treating Prostate Cancer at USOC

Other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is one of the most common diseases among men, so it is important to know all of the symptoms, risk factors, and treatment options. There are variations in the prognosis based on your age, genetics, and overall health history, which is why it is important to get ahead of the issue since the older you are, the higher your chances of being diagnosed.

As far as preparation and early detection are concerned, USOC is able to provide adequate treatment options and testing to ensure your health needs are met. With many locations across the Carolinas, we offer services ranging from kidney health to sexual health. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and download our free guide on living with prostate cancer. Various treatment options are provided in our clinics to promote longevity and a positive outcome. Let us begin your treatment journey today.

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