What If My Test Results Are Abnormal
If the results of early detection tests like the PSA screening or the digital rectal exam suggest that you might have prostate cancer, your doctor will conduct further testing. The PSA may be repeated, or you may be sent to a specialist for more tests such as a transrectal ultrasound and a prostate biopsy.
In a prostate biopsy, a tissue sample is taken from your prostate. Cancer can only be diagnosed with a tissue sample.
Recent research has yielded additional tests in addition to the PSA, DRE, and biopsy that can give a doctor more information to determine the probability of both finding cancer during a biopsy and determining how aggressive that cancer is likely to be. Read more on those tests.
What Are The Prostate Cancer Symptoms I Need To Look Out For
In its early stages, prostate cancer may not show any symptoms. Symptoms of early prostate cancer can include:
- difficulty passing urine
- a slow, interrupted flow of urine
- frequent passing of urine, including at night
Symptoms associated with advanced prostate cancer include:
- pain during urination
- lower back or pelvic pain.
These symptoms are also found in men who may have benign prostatic hyperplasia , a common, non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate gland.
If you experience these symptoms, visit your doctor.
Digital Rectal Examination For Prostate Cancer
A digital rectal examination , performed as part of an annual physical checkup, is one of the most important tests for the early detection of prostate cancer. Because the prostate gland is located just in front of the rectum, it cannot be felt from the outside of the body.
During the DRE, a doctor inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into the patients rectum to feel for lumps, enlargements, or areas of hardness that might indicate prostate cancer. The procedure lasts for less than minute and, while uncomfortable, should cause no pain. However, a painful examination could indicate the presence of other, benign conditions, such as prostatitis.
Recommended Reading: Side Effects Of Radiation For Prostate Cancer
How Often Is A Prostate Exam Necessary
Your frequency of testing may be due to several factors, including your age, family history, and present health condition:
4049 Years of Age: Most urologists recommend men aged 40 and above to undergo a prostate exam if they have a family history or personal history of prostate cancer. Also, African-American men should talk to their doctor about how often to have these tests performed because they are at a heightened risk. The PSA test is the gold standard for prostate screening, and your doctor may also perform a digital rectal exam .
Your test results will further determine how often you may need a prostate exam. Generally, if your PSA result is under 2.5, you will likely only need the test every two years. On the other hand, if the result is higher, your doctor will probably recommend an annual prostate exam.
If the number is beginning to increase, your physician will probably ask you to return within a matter of months to have a follow-up test because an increasing PSA could indicate the presence of cancer cells. You may also need a biopsy.
50 Years and Above: Men with an average prostate cancer risk start getting a PSA exam at age 50. At this age, your provider may recommend an annual PSA and DRE. Your doctor will guide you regarding future PSA tests because the frequency may change as you age.
Who Should Get A Prostate Exam
Men should understand the importance of a prostate exam. This will help men determine when it is essential for them to get a digital rectal exam .
Age is one of the most important risk factors associated with prostate problems. The risk tends to increase once a man reaches the age of 40. Thus, men over 40 should ensure they get regular health screening. The man should also provide a prostate exam as part of the health screening.
This becomes especially important once the man reaches the age of 60. The majority of prostate problems occur in men of this age and older. Thus, at the age of 60, a man should never delay a prostate exam.
There are other reasons for men to get a prostate exam, apart from age.
Men who experience certain symptoms should ensure they get a prostate exam. A man should educate himself on common symptoms associated with prostate problems.
The sooner the prostate exam is done once the symptoms appear, the earlier a diagnosis can be made.
Most prostate conditions will cause an enlargement of the gland. Sometimes inflammation may affect the gland instead. The prostate gland is situated directly beneath the bladder. It also surrounds the urethra. This is why men will usually experience lower urinary symptoms when they have a prostate problem.
Don’t Miss: How Do I Know If I Have Prostate Problems
What Is The Recommended Age For A Prostate Exam
Did you know that prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men, right after skin cancer? This terrible condition develops slowly and it is difficult to recognize in its early stages since it has very few symptoms. Nonetheless, as with any cancer, screening tests are the best way to diagnose any anomalies that could indicate there is a bigger problem. However, a prostate exam is not for everyone.
What Is A Psa Exam
A PSA exam usually comes after DRE with the purpose of measuring the quantity of Prostate-Specific Antigen in the blood. Only 2 sources produce this type of protein in the male body: the prostate gland and a prostate tumor. Any reading that reveals an abnormal quantity of the PSA protein in a patient is going to prompt doctors to further investigate for signs of prostate cancer.
This blood test cannot be taken as an official prostate cancer diagnosis. Thats because there might be other explanations for the increased number of PSA. An inflamed prostate or certain medications can generate more PSA protein than usual which can mislead doctors. Therefore, a PSA exam result with unusual readings leads to further examinations instead of a diagnosis.
Also Check: Does Medicare Cover Prostate Biopsy
Time To Say Goodbye To The Dre For Prostate Cancer Screening
Screening and assessing for prostate cancer is a major component of a urologists practice. For most urologists, part of this process includes the digital rectal examination . The DRE entails using a finger to enter the rectum and feel a patients prostate. The DRE enables physicians to make rough estimates of prostate size and identify abnormalities suggestive of PCa. It is the first physical examination urologists learn because for a long time DREs were the best and only means to screen for and detect PCa. The DRE is ingrained in urology culture, and often is joked about in film and television to the extent that some have called it the urologists handshake.
In the 1990s came the discovery of the prostate specific antigen blood test, which could help physicians identify PCa earlier in its course. Imperfect and somewhat controversial, PSA testing has become the gold standard for PCa screening. But since the adoption of PSA into urologic practice, other major advances in PCa detection have become available, such as the 4K score test or multiparametric magnetic resonance imaging of the prostate. These newer tools help urologists decide which patients should move on to a prostate biopsy and which ones can avoid it.
Limited Value in Decision-Making
Quick, Cheap, But With Drawbacks
Not Completely Obsolete
What Do You Want Men To Know About Prostate Cancer
The important thing to know is that, if you live long enough, you will probably get prostate cancer. If you live into your 80s, about 80 percent of men have some sort of prostate cancer. That doesnt mean theyre going to die from prostate cancer because, as a percentage, very few men die from prostate cancer. It means its important to be aware of it and consider screening early, so if its a high-grade type, we can identify it and treat it.
Don’t Miss: Side Effects Of Prostate Removal
Weighing Your Options For Treatment
If you test positive for prostate cancer, you have some options as to what youd like to do about it. Until recently, nearly everyone opted for surgery or radiation, while some patients choose not to undergo treatment, instead opting for active surveillance, during which the cancers are left alone but regularly monitored to be certain that theyre not growing.
Certainly, screening can lead to earlier prostate cancer detection, and with earlier detection, youre eligible for multiple different treatments or active surveillance, said Sia Daneshmand, MD, director of urologic oncology at USC Urology of Keck Medicine of USC and associate professor of urology at Keck School of Medicine of USC. So we encourage patients who are candidates for screening to discuss it with their urologist and/or primary care physician so that we can determine whats the best course of treatment for them.
There also is a new option for those seeking prostate cancer treatment. Its called High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound , which uses ultrasound beams to non-surgically destroy prostate tumors.
What To Expect During The Study
This type of test can be done easily and quickly in your doctors office. In the first instance, a rectal examination is carried out to rule out anything abnormal, such as lumps and hard or soft areas. The urologist can also feel if the prostate is in a larger than the normal state.
If your doctor feels any abnormalities when performing the rectal exam, he or she will probably recommend a blood test. The blood test will indicate at what level the prostate cancer is, but it can also indicate other conditions, such as BPH or prostate infections. If you show abnormalities in your rectal exam and high levels in the blood test, the specialist may recommend additional tests such as:
- Transrectal ultrasound
- Prostate biopsy
- Magnetic Resonance Scan
Keep in mind that if any of the screening tests have unfavorable results, you should talk to your doctor about the next plan to perform. This will depend on your age, health status, and family history.
Also Check: Nodules On Prostate Always Cancer
Any Sign Of My Car Keys
At what age should you get a prostate exam? Because the early stages of prostate cancer often show no symptoms, detecting it ASAP is the only reason you need to get checked. And if the doctor finds your keys, consider it a bonus. The Canadian Cancer Society recommends you wait until youre around 50 to get screened for prostate cancer.
As you can tell, prostate exams are, ahem, the butts of some pretty good one-liners. Here are some more:
After my prostate exam, the doctor left. The nurse came in with a worried look on her face, and said the three words I was dreading to hear: Who was that?
I had a prostate exam yesterday. Thats the last time I will ever fall asleep on the subway!
I went to see my doctor for a prostate exam. There was nothing to worry about he gave me the thumbs up!
What Is A Psa Test
If the doctor finds abnormalities during the DRE, then the patient needs to undergo more tests. A PSA test is very commonly requested. It is also called a prostate-specific antigen test, or a PSA blood test.
A PSA test measures the level of prostate-specific antigen in the patients bloodstream. This is an indicator of various prostate-related conditions. The doctor may use the results from a PSA test to determine the abnormality of the male patients prostate.
Several conditions may be detected through a PSA test. This is because the level of PSA in the body increases when certain things affect the prostate gland.
When the prostate is affected by inflammation, the PSA levels will generally increase. The same happens when the man develops an infection in their prostate.
An enlargement of the prostate gland is also known to elevate the protein levels in the mans body. This is an indication of benign prostatic hyperplasia, a prevalent condition in men. When left untreated, an enlarged prostate can cause problems. This includes a risk of infections bladder infection and urinary tract infections can occur.
A PSA test can also help in the diagnosis of prostate cancer. When cancerous cells develop in the prostate gland, the PSA levels in the mans body will also rise.
Also Check: How Do Prostate Cancer Patients Die
Understanding Your Biopsy Results
You might have a negative biopsy. This means that no cancer cells were found. Your doctor might arrange another biopsy even if the first biopsy was negative. Theyll discuss this with you. This is because in some cases biopsies can miss cancer.
If they find cancer cells, a pathologist grades each sample of prostate cancer cells from 3 to 5 based on how quickly they are likely to grow or how aggressive the cells look. You may hear this being called the Gleason grade, Gleason score or Grade Group.
Gleason score or Grade Group
The pathologist works out an overall Gleason score by adding together the 2 most common Gleason grades. This combined score is also now called the Grade Group.
There are 5 Grade Groups. Grade Group 1 is the least aggressive and Grade Group 5 is the most aggressive.
It can be difficult to understand what the Gleason score and Grade Group mean in your situation. We have more information about the Gleason score and Grade Groups. And you can ask your doctor and specialist nurse if you have any questions about this.
So Doc Which Grey Cup Did You Win
Do you need an annual prostate exam? Probably not. This mostly depends on your age and if youre high risk. You may not look forward to Prostate Cancer Awareness Month like you do the Grey Cup. Still, every year the September-long event does highlight a wide range of great tips for keeping your prostate and the rest of you healthy and getting a prostate exam tops the list if youre in a high-risk category. Oh, and doctors always remove their rings while performing the exams.
Don’t Miss: After Effects Of Radiation For Prostate Cancer
If Your Gp Doesn’t Think You Need Any Tests Or A Referral
- Can you explain why I dont need to have tests or see a specialist?
- Is there anything I can do to help myself?
- Do I need to see you again?
- Who do I contact if my symptoms continue or get worse, especially during the night or at weekends?
- I’ve been reading about prostate cancer and wish to have a PSA test can you explain why I dont need one?
What Happens During A Dre
The DRE will take place in a private exam room at your doctors office. The test only takes a few minutes. You will need to take off any clothes below your waist. You will be given a gown to wear or a cloth to wrap around your body.
For men. The doctor will ask you to stand and bend forward at the waist or they will ask you to lie on your side on an exam table with knees pulled up to your chest. As they start the DRE, the doctor may ask you to relax and take a deep breath. Then they will gently insert a lubricated, gloved finger into your rectum. The doctor will feel the size of your prostate gland. They will also feel for bumps, soft or hard spots, or other abnormal areas. The doctor will also examine the wall of your lower colon and rectum.
For women. The doctor will usually ask you to lie on your back on an exam table. Your feet will be in raised stirrups. The doctor may ask you to relax and take a deep breath as they start the DRE. Then they will gently insert a lubricated, gloved finger into your rectum. The goal is to feel your reproductive organs and the bowel. The doctor may also feel for problems in your internal organs. They do this by pressing on your lower abdomen or pelvic area with their other hand.
A DRE usually does not hurt, but you may be uncomfortable. You may also feel the need to urinate. If a mans prostate is enlarged, there may be some discomfort or mild pain during the exam.
Read Also: Natural Ways To Cure Prostate Cancer
You May Like: Symptoms Of Bph And Prostatitis
Can I Check My Own Prostate
It is not recommended that you try to check your own prostate.
The prostate is an internal gland, and performing a self-examination could cause harm. For your safety, the exam should be performed by a licensed healthcare professional.
Additionally, a professional will be better able to assess if there is a reason for concern.
Living With Prostate Cancer
As prostate cancer usually progresses very slowly, you can live for decades without symptoms or needing treatment.
You may find it beneficial to talk about the condition with your family, friends, a GP and other people with prostate cancer.
Financial support is also available if prostate cancer reduces your ability to work.
Don’t Miss: How Can I Improve My Prostate Health
What Is A Digital Rectal Exam
The most common way for doctors to check on the health of your prostate is with a DRE. Its a fairly quick and simple procedure.
For the exam, youll bend at the waist while standing or lie on your side with your knees bent toward your chest.
Your doctor will lubricate a gloved finger and gently place it inside your rectum. Theyll press one hand on your prostate, and their other hand will feel your pelvic area. It should only take a few moments.
You may experience momentary discomfort. You may also feel the urge to urinate, especially if your prostate is enlarged or inflamed.
Your doctor will be able to tell you if your prostate seems to be a normal size and shape. In general, a DRE has no risks.