Prostate Cancer Screening (cont.)
In this Article
- What is screening?
- What is prostate cancer?
- How common is prostate cancer?
- What are prostate cancer risk factors?
- What tests are used to screen for prostate cancer?
- What are the risks of prostate cancer screening tests?
- Where can people get more information about prostate cancer screening?
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.
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.
- Having a brother, son, or father who had prostate cancer.
- Eating a diet high in fat or drinking alcoholic beverages.
What tests are used to screen for prostate cancer?
Some screening tests are used because they have been shown to be helpful both in finding cancers early and decreasing the chance of dying from these cancers. Other tests are used because they have been shown to find cancer in some people; however, it has not been proven in clinical trials that use of these tests will decrease the risk of dying from the cancer for which a person is being screened.
Scientists study screening tests to find those with the fewest risks and most benefits. Cancer screening trials also are meant to show whether early detection (finding cancer before it causes symptoms) decreases a person's chance of dying from the disease. For some types of cancer, finding and treating the disease at an early stage may result in a better chance of recovery.
Screening tests used to detect prostate cancer.
Screening tests for prostate cancer continue to be under study. Decisions about undergoing screening for prosate cancer should be discussed one on one with a doctor. One may wish to participate in the study of screening tests for prostate cancer. These studies are called clinical trials. There are clinical trials taking place in many parts of the country. Information about ongoing clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site.
Tests to detect (find) prostate cancer that are being studied include the following:
Digital rectal exam
Digital rectal exam (DRE) is an exam of the rectum. The doctor or nurse inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into the lower part of the rectum to feel the prostate for lumps or anything else that seems unusual.
Digital rectal exam (DRE). The doctor inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum and feels the prostate to check for anything abnormal.
Prostate-specific antigen test
A prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test is a test that measures the level of PSA in the blood. PSA is a substance made mostly by the prostate that may be found in an increased amount in the blood of men who have prostate cancer. The level of PSA may also be high in men who have an infection or inflammation of the prostate or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH; an enlarged, but noncancerous, prostate).
Scientists are studying the combination of PSA testing and digital rectal exam as a way to get more accurate results from the screening tests.
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