According to the National Cancer Institute, about 12 out of 100 men in the U.S. will be diagnosed with prostate cancer sometime during their lives. Among African American men, one in six will be diagnosed and one in five whose fathers or brothers were diagnosed also will develop prostate cancer. But most men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer can get treatment and live healthy lives.
Screening for prostate cancer means testing for a disease when there are no symptoms. This screening is done with the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test and digital rectal examination of the prostate gland.
Early stage prostate cancer may cause no symptoms. Intermediate stages can cause urinary problems like trouble urinating, weak stream, frequent urination or pain with urination. High-risk stages can cause urinary problems and may also include weight loss, pain in the pelvic area or lower back or hips, loss of appetite or blood in the urine.
Guidelines for prostate cancer screening are based on a man’s age and his risk of getting prostate cancer. Some things that put men at a higher risk include:
- Being African American.
- Having a father or brother who had prostate cancer.
- When a gene change, such as BRCA, runs in your family.
The age-related recommendations for prostate cancer screening are:
If you are age 40 or under
- Men aren’t advised to undergo screening for prostate cancer.
If you are 40 to 54 years old
- Men at average risk aren’t advised to undergo screening for prostate cancer.
- Around age 45, men at higher risk should talk with their doctors about the pros and cons of testing and consider getting screened for prostate cancer.
If you are 55 to 69 years old
- All men are recommended to consider getting screened for prostate cancer after they have talked with their doctor about the pros and cons of screening.
If you are age 70 or older
- Most men aren’t advised to undergo screening for prostate cancer as the side effects of screening often outweigh the benefits.
If you are thinking of having a PSA test or have questions about your risk, make an appointment with Mihir Shah, M.D., or any ChristianaCare urologist at 302-320-9420.
Mihir Shah, M.D., is a fellowship-trained urologist specializing in minimally invasive urologic surgery and urologic oncology at ChristianaCare.