How Does Prostate Cancer Screening Work?

An important component of treating prostate cancer is catching it in the early stages so that less invasive treatment methods can be utilized. The best way to catch prostate cancer early is to have regular screenings. Opinions about regular screenings vary among medical professionals, but if your doctor has recommended a prostate cancer screening, here’s what you need to know.

Who Should Be Screened?

Those at higher risk of prostate cancer due to family history of prostate cancer at a young age or other genetic predisposition should begin being screened at age 40. Lower-risk men can start at around 45-50 years of age. Men who have already been diagnosed with prostate cancer should be routinely screened for post-treatment monitoring and further risk assessment.

What’s the PSA Test?

Prostate cancer screening generally consists of a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. PSA is naturally produced by the prostate gland, but elevated levels could indicate prostate cancer or other prostate problems. A PSA screening test is done by drawing blood so that it can be sent to the lab to determine PSA levels. The doctor may also do a digital rectal exam to detect any abnormalities as well.

Does High PSA Mean Cancer?

Prostate cancer and the screening test can be difficult because higher levels don’t always mean cancer. Depending on age, family history, and other factors, the doctor may decide to do a biopsy to determine whether cancer is present.

Treating Prostate Cancer

One of the reasons medical professionals disagree on the frequency of prostate screening is that prostate cancer can vary widely in its danger. Many prostate cancers grow so slowly that they only require monitoring to ensure the cancer doesn’t spread, depending on the age of the patient. A prostate cancer treatment can have devastating side effects for some patients, so it’s important that the cancer is accurately identified before beginning treatment. Treatment can include radiation and chemotherapy, or surgery in severe cases. Fortunately, HIFU prostate cancer treatment has been introduced as a way to non-invasively treat cancerous tissue on the prostate gland without causing the side effects of other treatments. This treatment uses high-intensity focused ultrasound waves to destroy the diseased tissue without affecting the surrounding tissue.