Prostate Cancer Screening

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Medical organizations advise men considering getting screened for prostate cancer in their fifties. For men with prostate cancer risk factors, getting screened even earlier than age fifty is advisable. Talk to your doctor about the benefits of getting screened as well as the risks so that you can make a decision about whether getting screened for prostate cancer is right for you.

Tests for prostate screening include:

• Testing for PSA or Prostate-Specific Antigen– when samples of blood are drawn from your arm’s vein and put through an analysis for prostate-specific antigen. It is normal for your bloodstream to contain a small amount of PSA. Higher levels than normal, however, might indicate the possibility of enlargement inflammation, infection or cancer.

• Digital Rectal Exam- In a digital rectal exam, doctors insert lubricated, gloved fingers into your rectum in order to check your prostate. This sits adjacently to your rectum. If your doctor finds any unusual shapes, textures or sizes of the gland, more testing might be recommended.

• Combined with DRE, PSA testing will help in identifying early stages of cancer of the prostate.

Making a Prostate Cancer Diagnosis

If there is a detected abnormality on a PSA or DRE test, your physician might recommend other examinations to find out whether or not you have prostate cancer including:

• Collecting prostate tissue samples- If test results initially suggest cancer of the prostate, your physician might recommend a procedure called a prostate biopsy which involves collecting a cell sample from your prostate. Often, prostate biopsies are done by inserting a thin needle into the prostate for tissue collection. To determine whether or not cancer cells are present, the samples of tissue are sent to the lab for analysis.

Ultrasound– if any concerns are raised, your physician might use an ultrasound trans-rectally to do a further evaluation of your prostate. Smaller probes about the shape and size of cigars are put into your rectum. Sound waves are used by the probe to make a prostate gland image.

Is Cancer of the Prostate Aggressive?

When cancer is present and confirmed by a biopsy, the next step is to find out the grade or level of aggression of the cells of cancer. Pathologists in a lab example a cancer sample to find out how different they are from regular cells. Higher grades of cancer cells indicate more aggression and are likely to be the kind that spreads quickly.

To evaluate prostate cancer cell grade, a scaled called the Gleason score is used. Two numbers ranging from two to ten are used, with two being nonaggressive and ten being very aggressive cancer.

How Much Has the Cancer Spread?

Once a diagnosis is made of prostate cancer, your physician will work to find out the cancer stage or extent. If doctors suspect that it the spread has occurred beyond the prostate, tests for imaging might be recommended such as:

Positron Emission Tomography scan
• Magnetic Resonance Imaging scan
• Computerized tomography scan
• Ultrasound
• Bone Scan

Your doctor will help you decide which tests are recommended for you.

Getting screened for prostate cancer has a lot of benefits. Get yourself screened early to avail of these benefits.

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