Tests Are Used To Screen For Different Types Of Cancer When A Person Does Not Have Symptoms
Scientists study screening tests to find those with the fewest harms and most benefits. Cancer screening trials also are meant to show whether early detection helps a person live longer or decreases a person’s chance of dying from the disease. For some types of cancer, the chance of recovery is better if the disease is found and treated at an early stage.
Screening For Prostate Cancer In Men With A Family History
The introduction of PSA-based screening for prostate cancer has substantially altered the epidemiologic data for prostate cancer, greatly increasing the number of men with a diagnosis of prostate cancer and thus also the number of men with a father, brother, or son with a history of prostate cancer.
It is generally accepted that men with a family history of prostate cancer are more likely to develop prostate cancer. A study of twins in Scandinavia estimated that genetic factors may account for up to 42% of prostate cancer risk.18 An analysis from the Finnish site of the ERSPC trial concluded that men with at least 1 first-degree relative with prostate cancer were 30% more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than men without a family history.19 Men with 3 first-degree relatives with prostate cancer or 2 close relatives on the same side of the family with prostate cancer diagnosed before age 55 years may have an inheritable form of prostate cancer associated with genetic changes passed down from one generation to the next. This type of prostate cancer is thought to account for less than 10% of all prostate cancer cases.20
The USPSTF searched for evidence about the potential benefits and harms of PSA-based screening for prostate cancer in men with a family history of prostate cancer.
Advising Men With a Family History of Prostate Cancer
Medical History And Physical Exam
If your doctor suspects you might have prostate cancer, he or she will ask you about any symptoms you are having, such as any urinary or sexual problems, and how long you have had them. You might also be asked about possible risk factors, including your family history.
Your doctor will also examine you. This might include a digital rectal exam , during which the doctor inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into your rectum to feel for any bumps or hard areas on the prostate that might be cancer. If you do have cancer, the DRE can sometimes help tell if its only on one side of the prostate, if its on both sides, or if its likely to have spread beyond the prostate to nearby tissues. Your doctor may also examine other areas of your body.
After the exam, your doctor might then order some tests.
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When Is A Psa Test Needed
If you are age 50 to 74, you should discuss the PSA test with your doctor. Ask about the possible risks and benefits.
Men under 50 or over 75 rarely need a PSA test, unless they have a high risk for prostate cancer.
- You are more likely to get prostate cancer if you have a family history of prostate cancer, especially in a close relative such as a parent or sibling.
- Your risks are higher if your relative got prostate cancer before age 60 or died from it before age 75. These early cancers are more likely to grow faster.
- If you have these risks, you may want to ask your doctor about getting the PSA test before age 50.
This report is for you to use when talking with your healthcare provider. It is not a substitute for medical advice and treatment. Use of this report is at your own risk.
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A major European study looked into the advantages and disadvantages of PSA screening for men. The study involved a total of 162,000 men between the ages of 55 and 69. About half of them had two to three PSA tests on average. The tests were typically done about four years apart. If the PSA level was over 3 ng/ml, tissue samples were taken. The other half of the men were not offered screening tests. For 16 years now, the researchers have been observing how many men have developed prostate cancer in both groups and how many have died of it.
What Are Some Of The Limitations And Potential Harms Of The Psa Test For Prostate Cancer Screening
Detecting prostate cancer early may not reduce the chance of dying from prostate cancer. When used in screening, the PSA test can help detect small tumors that do not cause symptoms. Finding a small tumor, however, may not necessarily reduce a mans chance of dying from prostate cancer. Many tumors found through PSA testing grow so slowly that they are unlikely to threaten a mans life. Detecting tumors that are not life-threatening
that requires treatment.
Getting The Results Of The Biopsy
Your biopsy samples will be sent to a lab, where they will be looked at with a microscope to see if they contain cancer cells. Getting the results usually takes at least 1 to 3 days, but it can sometimes take longer. The results might be reported as:
- Positive for cancer: Cancer cells were seen in the biopsy samples.
- Negative for cancer: No cancer cells were seen in the biopsy samples.
- Suspicious: Something abnormal was seen, but it might not be cancer.
If the biopsy is negative
If the prostate biopsy results are negative , and the chance that you have prostate cancer isnt very high based on your PSA level and other tests, you might not need any more tests, other than repeat PSA tests sometime later.
But even if many samples are taken, biopsies can still sometimes miss a cancer if none of the biopsy needles pass through it. This is known as a false-negative result. If your doctor still strongly suspects you have prostate cancer , your doctor might suggest:
- Getting other lab tests to help get a better idea of whether or not you might have prostate cancer. Examples of such tests include the Prostate Health Index , 4Kscore test, PCA3 tests , and ConfirmMDx. These tests are discussed in Whats New in Prostate Cancer Research?
- Getting a repeat prostate biopsy. This might include getting additional samples of parts of the prostate not biopsied the first time, or using imaging tests such as MRI to look more closely for abnormal areas to target.
Prostate cancer grade
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Harms Of Early Detection And Treatment
The harms of screening for prostate cancer include harms from the PSA screening test and subsequent harms from diagnosis and treatment. Potential harms of screening include frequent false-positive results and psychological harms. One major trial in men screened every 2 to 4 years concluded that, over 10 years, more than 15% of men experienced at least 1 false-positive test result.5 Harms of diagnostic procedures include complications of prostate biopsy, such as pain, hematospermia , and infection. Approximately 1% of prostate biopsies result in complications requiring hospitalization. The false-positive and complication rates from biopsy are higher in older men.3 Adequate evidence suggests that the harms of screening and diagnostic procedures are at least small.
PSA-based screening for prostate cancer leads to the diagnosis of prostate cancer in some men whose cancer would never have become symptomatic during their lifetime. Treatment of these men results in harms and provides them with no benefit. This is known as overdiagnosis, and follow-up of large randomized trials suggests that 20% to 50% of men diagnosed with prostate cancer through screening may be overdiagnosed.3 Overdiagnosis rates would be expected to increase with age and to be highest in men 70 years and older because older men have high risk of death from competing causes.
Vitamin E And Selenium
In a clinical study known as the SELECT trial, researchers studied whether selenium and vitamin E, taken together or alone, could help prevent prostate cancer.
As reported in the 2011 results, men who took vitamin E supplements alone had a 17 percent relative increase in prostate cancer. For this reason, we suggest you avoid taking vitamin E supplements and focus instead on consuming foods rich in vitamin E. These include nuts , vegetable oils , seeds, wheat germ, whole grain products, and spinach and other dark, green leafy vegetables.
As reported in the studys 2008 and 2011 results, there were more cases of diabetes in men taking only selenium, and men taking selenium alone or in combination with vitamin E were more likely to develop prostate cancer. The findings were not statistically significant and cannot be definitely linked to selenium. However, we recommend against taking selenium supplements. The best source of selenium is food. Foods rich in selenium include Brazil nuts, wheat germ, bran, brown rice, whole wheat bread, barley, onions, garlic, turnips, soybeans, mushrooms, fish, and eggs.
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Is A Prostate Biopsy Painful
Chances of feeling any significant pain during a prostate biopsy are generally low, because your doctor will numb the area with an anesthetic shot.
However, you may feel some pain after the procedure, especially when sitting. Pain may occur in the area between the anus and scrotum and can last for a day or two. Your doctor may prescribe pain medications and suggest that you take it easy for a few days after the procedure.
How Do I Get Screened
The gold-standard test for prostate cancer screening is the PSA test.
The PSA test measures levels of prostate-specific antigen in the blood. PSA is a protein produced by the cells of the prostate. Because cancerous cells tend to produce more PSA, a spike in your PSA level may signify a problem, however, there are other benign conditions that may cause an uptick in PSA. Read more here about how to make sure your PSA test is as accurate as possible. If youre having a PSA test, it can often be added on to other blood work you may be having that day, and you may not need a separate blood draw.
Tracking your PSA over time can be valuable to distinguish a temporary increase from a gradual, yet persistent rise. Even if your level is still within normal range, but is higher than it was the last time it was tested, its worth checking further. After a single high PSA result, often the first step is to repeat the test a couple of weeks later to confirm that it is, in fact, elevated. This should be done at the same lab as the previous test, to avoid fluctuations due to different equipment.
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Response To Public Comment
A draft version of this recommendation statement was posted for public comment on the USPSTF website from April 11 to May 8, 2017. A number of comments suggested that because men are now living longer, they should be screened beyond 70 years of age. However, the USPSTF considered other evidence in addition to data on life expectancy when recommending against screening in men older than 70 years, including results from large screening trials that did not report a mortality benefit for men older than 70 years and evidence on the increased likelihood of harm from screening, diagnostic evaluation, treatment, overdiagnosis, and overtreatment. Several comments requested a recommendation for younger men and for baseline PSA-based screening in men 40 years and older or 50 years and older. The USPSTF found inadequate evidence that screening younger men or performing baseline PSA-based screening provides benefit.
Conflict of Interest Disclosures: All authors have completed and submitted the ICMJE Form for Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest. Authors followed the policy regarding conflicts of interest described at . All members of the USPSTF receive travel reimbursement and an honorarium for participating in USPSTF meetings.
Research Into Prostate Cancer Screening
Many prostate cancers grow very slowly and dont cause men any problems in their lifetime. Overall, evidence from trials of prostate screening has shown that prostate cancer screening does not reduce the number of men dying from prostate cancer.
The Cancer Research UK CAP trial looked at whether a single PSA blood test would reduce the number of men dying of prostate cancer. This was a large UK study with over 400,000 men between the ages of 50 and 69 taking part. Around half the men were offered a PSA blood test the other half weren’t.
The results in early 2018 showed that the number of men dying from prostate cancer was the same in both groups. This was after 10 years of follow up. The researchers say that this trial doesnt support PSA testing as a screening test for prostate cancer. They say we need more research to find a better screening test.
This supports what the 2013 Cochrane review found. This looked at screening research from a number of trials and concluded that prostate cancer screening did not reduce the number of men dying from prostate cancer.
Research looking at doing more than one test doesnt show that this would help either. Increasing the number of tests could increase the level of harms such as diagnosing those cancers that wouldnt cause any harm . Many men have side effects from treatment and the risks of routine PSA screening outweigh the benefits.
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What Does Psa Mean
PSA, or prostate-specific antigen, is a protein produced by the prostate and found mostly in semen, with very small amounts released into the bloodstream. When theres a problem with the prostatesuch as the development and growth of prostate cancermore PSA is released. Sometimes, a mans prostate releases slightly high PSA for other reasons. Rising PSA eventually reaches a level where it can be easily detected by a blood test.
For more information on rising PSA, download or order your free copy of the Prostate Cancer Patient Guide.
What Are Prostate Cancer Risk Factors
Age, race, and family history of prostate cancer can affect the risk of developing prostate cancer.
Anything that increases a person’s chance of developing a disease is called a risk factor. Risk factors for prostate cancer include the following:
- Being 50 years of age or older.
- Being black.
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How Common Is Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is the most common nonskin cancer among men in the United States.
Prostate cancer is found mainly in older men. Although the number of men with prostate cancer is large, most men diagnosed with this disease do not die from it. Prostate cancer occurs more often in African-American men than in white men. African-American men with prostate cancer are more likely to die from the disease than white men with prostate cancer.
Screening Tests Have Risks
Decisions about screening tests can be difficult. Not all screening tests are helpful and most have risks. Before having any screening test, you may want to discuss the test with your doctor. It is important to know the risks of the test and whether it has been proven to reduce the risk of dying fromcancer.
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Effectiveness Of Early Detection
Potential Benefits of Screening
To understand the potential benefits of PSA-based screening for prostate cancer, the USPSTF examined the results of the ERSPC, PLCO, and CAP trials and site-specific reports from 4 ERSPC trial sites. To understand the effectiveness of treatment of screen-detected, early-stage prostate cancer, the USPSTF also examined the results of 3 randomized trials and 9 cohort studies.3
The ERSPC trial randomly assigned a core group of more than 160,000 men aged 55 to 69 years from 7 European countries to PSA-based screening vs usual care.8 Four ERSPC sites reported on the cumulative incidence of metastatic prostate cancer. After a median follow-up of 12 years, the risk of developing metastatic prostate cancer was 30% lower among men randomized to screening compared with usual care . The absolute reduction in long-term risk of metastatic prostate cancer associated with screening was 3.1 cases per 1000 men.11 After a median follow-up of 13 years, the prostate cancer mortality rate among men aged 55 to 69 years was 4.3 deaths per 10,000 person-years in the screening group and 5.4 deaths per 10,000 person-years in the usual care group .8 The ERSPC trial did not find a reduction in all-cause mortality.8
Neither the ERSPC, PLCO, or CAP trials, nor any of the ERSPC site-specific analyses, found an overall all-cause mortality benefit from screening for prostate cancer.
Potential Benefits of Treatment
Early Detection Saves Lives
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer affecting Australian men .
Prostate cancer is the growth of abnormal cells in the prostate gland. This gland is only found in males and is about the size of a walnut.
The causes of prostate cancer are not understood and there is currently no clear prevention strategy.
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Determining Whether Prostate Cancer Is Aggressive
If a biopsy sample is found to contain cancer, the pathologist analyzing the specimen takes a deeper look at the cancer cells to determine how aggressive the disease is likely to be.
If the cancer cells appear significantly abnormal and dissimilar from healthy cells under a microscope, the cancer is considered more aggressive and expected to advance quickly. Conversely, cancer cells that look relatively similar to healthy cells indicate that its less aggressive and may not spread as fast.
Prostate cancers are assigned a Gleason score depending on how abnormal the cells look..
Gleason score: Gleason scores range from 2 to 10, going from least to most aggressive prostate cancers.
There are different types of cancer cells in a prostate tumor, so the final Gleason score is determined by adding the scores of the two main areas of the tumor.
First, the primary part of the tumor is assigned a number between 1 and 5. Lower numbers indicate that the cells appear relatively similar to healthy cells, while higher numbers show that the cells are abnormal-looking. Then, another number between 1 and 5 is assigned to describe the second most prevalent area of the tumor.
Finally, the two numbers assigned to the different parts of the prostate tumor are added. So, if most of the tumor is given a 4, and some of the tumor is more aggressive and given a 5, the final Gleason score would be 9.
There are many biomarker tests, including:
- Oncotype DX® Genomic Prostate Score