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What to Expect During Prostate Cancer Screening


Are you a gentleman 40 or older who hasn’t had a prostate exam? Now would be a good time for you to get one. Since it’s Prostate Cancer Awareness Month this September, we want to encourage as many men aged 40 and older to get screened for prostate cancer.

The American Cancer Society reports that prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in American men, following skin cancer. Estimates show that about 1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in their life and 1 in 39 will die of the condition.

It’s important that you get tested. Here’s what you can expect during screening:

Prostate cancer screening basics

Early-stage prostate cancer doesn’t typically have visible symptoms. That’s why most prostate cancer is discovered during a digital rectal exam (DRE) and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening.

Aside from the DRE and PSA, there are several other follow-up tests that are used to confirm the diagnosis. These include a prostate biopsy and transrectal ultrasound (TRUS), which is done during prostate biopsy to help identify the exact location of the prostate.

The digital rectal exam (DRE)

The DRE is the primary screening method used to detect prostate cancer. During the test, your doctor or qualified nurse will check the size of the prostate by gliding a gloved and lubricated finger into your rectum. This will also help them detect and physical abnormalities.

You can expect a little discomfort, but the health care provider will do their best to keep you as comfortable as possible. Should you need it, you can also tell them to pause the procedure.

This exam is completely safe with very rare negative side effects. However, if you have pre-existing health conditions such as certain forms of heart disease, let your doctor know before taking this exam and they can advise you appropriately.

The prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test

Your doctor may also recommend the PSA test. This is a simple blood test used to measure your PSA (a protein released by the prostate) levels. The doctor or qualified nurse will take a small sample of your blood for analysis. You may experience a little pain during the test and mild swelling at the site for a few days.

For men without prostate cancer, PSA levels are usually 4 nanograms per milliliter of blood (4 ng/ml). As the PSA level goes up, the chance of having cancer increases. A level between 4–10 indicates a 25% chance of having prostate cancer. If your PSA level is above 10, your chance of having prostate cancer is over 50%.

Granted, these levels are just indicators. Different doctors may recommend a prostate biopsy at different PSA levels. Your doctor may make the decision based on other factors such as race, age, and family history that also affect PSA levels.

What happens after you’re screened

If your doctor suspects that you have prostate cancer, more tests will be performed to confirm the diagnosis. The actual diagnosis can only be achieved through a prostate biopsy.

If you’ve never had a prostate cancer screening or if you haven’t been screened in many years, schedule an appointment with a qualified prostate specialist at LabFinder today.