When it comes to your health, time is very precious. A cancer screening is designed to find indications of cancer before it causes any obvious symptoms. By the time prostate cancer becomes symptomatic, it may have already progressed to a later stage. The longer cancer goes undiagnosed and untreated, the more difficult it is to treat. It also poses a greater health risk to the patient.
Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy
Benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) generally begins around age 40, and it slowly progresses over the years. BPH is a benign growth of the prostate. By the time most men are in their 60s or 70s, they’ll be experiencing some of the symptoms of BPH. If you have BPH, you may experience frequent urination, difficulty starting, maintaining, or stopping a urine stream, or feeling an urgent need to urinate. BPH by itself can be aggravating or inconvenient, but it’s not a serious health issue. In contrast to BPH, prostate cancer often has no early warning symptoms.
Cancer screening for prostate cancer usually starts with the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. The test is used to measure the prostate-specific antigen present in the patient’s blood. Your prostate produces PSA, and it’s generally higher in men that have prostate cancer. However, PSA can be elevated due to other conditions that affect your prostate. Your PSA levels can be affected by medications, an enlarged prostate, or a prostate infection.
Digital Rectal Exam
Starting at age 40, men should begin receive a digital rectal exam (DRE) once a year. Prostate cancer can develop very slowly, which makes it challenging to detect. Ideally, it’s best to identify any changes during the early stages of prostate cancer. Having an annual exam allows your doctor to continue tracking any progress over time. As noted above, prostate cancer is often asymptomatic. That makes regularly scheduled exams even more important and ultimately essential for detecting it early. If prostate cancers are identified early enough, the 5-year survival rate is nearly 100%. To put it simply: early detection saves lives. You have options for treatment, like HIFU, so call the Prostate Cancer Institute to learn more.