Prostate Cancer Screening

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Early Diagnosis Prostate Cancer Through Screening

Prostate cancer screening includes:

  • Digital Rectal Exam (DRE)  This exam checks for the size, firmness and texture of the prostate. The doctor inserts a gloved and lubricated finger into the rectum to feel the prostate. This may cause some discomfort. The test takes about 10-15 seconds.
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen Test (PSA)  This is a blood test which checks for the level of a prostate protein called Prostate Specific Antigen in the blood. PSA is a protein made in the prostate to prevent the sperm cells from sticking together. It is mostly confined to the prostate under normal circumstances. If prostate cells are damaged, the PSA may no longer be contained in the prostate gland. If PSA leaks into the bloodstream, it can be measured. The greater the damage to the prostate cells, the more PSA will leak into the bloodstream. Another method of prevention is to diagnose prostate cancer at an early stage so as to prevent its progression towards advanced stages. The US Preventive Services Task Force recommends that selected individuals in the age group 55-69 should be offered screening for prostate cancer. Men who are 70 years or older do not benefit from screening and do not need to be screened. There are also some possible harms of screening, such as false-positive results, over-diagnosis, and overtreatment. The false-positive test result means that the person does not have prostate cancer, but the screening test indicates that he has it. However, there are some doctors who still insist that early screening is potentially life-saving and therefore offers the best chance for a cure – especially for high-risk groups.
    The decision to screen depends on the clinician’s assessment of benefits vs. harms of screening and the patient’s preference. Patients and doctors should weigh the benefits and harms of screening together.

What happens next?

If prostate cancer is suspected, the next step is  to take a prostate tissue sample (biopsy) and send it to a lab for confirmation.

Lab findings help healthcare providers determine:

  • The presence of, the type and the severity of the cancer
  • The need for any imaging tests (e.g. ultrasound, CT scan)
  • The best course for treatment (e.g. watchful waiting, surgery, radiation, chemotherapy or hormonal medication)

Although it is slow-growing, prostate cancer is the number one killer of African-Caribbean men. By the time a man shows up at the doctor with symptoms, the disease is usually at an advanced stage when it is very aggressive and difficult to treat.

BENEFITS OF BEING TESTED

Although it is slow-growing, prostate cancer is the number one killer of African-Caribbean men. By the time a man shows up at the doctor with symptoms, the disease is usually at an advanced stage when it is very aggressive and difficult to treat.

The benefits of being tested include:

  • Detecting the cell changes early which enables easier management of the disease
  • Knowing your prostate cancer status which can offer peace of mind

Prostate cancer is the number one killer of men with African ancestry — getting screened is a healthy decision.

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