Cancer screening is the process of looking for the presence of a cancer before signs or symptoms develop. Cancer is easiest to treat while it is still small and has not spread to other parts of the body. By the time symptoms develop, a cancer has already spread into surrounding tissue or to other parts of the body.
Most prostate cancers are slow growing and may not cause symptoms. There are two types of screening procedures for prostate cancer.
What is Prostate Cancer Screening?
Prostate cancer screening is the process of looking for prostate cancer before symptoms develop. It is important to note that most prostate cancers are either slow-growing or do not grow at all, and some are asymptomatic.
Diagram illustrating the stages of cancer. Image courtesy of the National Cancer Institute.
The following screening tests are used to detect prostate cancer:
Digital Rectal Exam (DRE): A doctor or nurse gauges the size of the prostate as well as feels for abnormalities using a gloved, lubricated finger. In many cases, it is possible to feel the presence of larger tumors; however, a biopsy is required to verify that a tumor is present.
Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test: PSA is a protein that is naturally produced by the prostate. A PSA test is a blood test which measures the level of PSA. Elevated levels can be indicative of prostate cancer, but can also result from other non-cancerous conditions.
In most cases, normal results from DRE and PSA tests indicate that it is unlikely a cancer is present.
The only way to know for certain if an individual has prostate cancer is a biopsy. A biopsy is a minor surgery that removes a small part of the prostate for review under a microscope. Doctors can identify the presence of prostate cancer depending on the appearance of the cells within the biopsy sample.
Who Should be Screened for Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer screening recommendations vary by organization. Speak with your doctor about whether you should be screened. They will be able to assess your risk factors and determine if screening is right for you.
Risk factors for prostate cancer include:
Age (Risk increases in men 50 years and older)
Race (African American men are at increased risk)
In addition to determining whether you may benefit from prostate cancer screening, your doctor will be able to discuss all potential benefits and risks of screening.
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We welcome patients and family from all over the world, but mostly those living within a hundred-mile radius of Anderson and Greenville, South Carolina.
AnMed Health & Blue Ridge Radiation Oncology are charter members of Levine Cancer Institute's cancer care network. Carolinas HealthCare System's Levine Cancer Institute aims to build "a cancer institute without walls," by increasing access to specialist consultations, research offerings, program offerings and services to member institutions throughout the Carolinas.