September is National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer among men in the US, other than skin cancer. The prostate is a gland found only in males. It makes some of the fluid that is part of semen.
What Is Prostate Cancer?
Cancer starts when cells in the body begin to grow out of control. Cells in nearly any part of the body can become cancer cells, and can then spread to other areas of the body. Prostate cancer begins when cells in the prostate gland start to grow out of control.
Some prostate cancers grow and spread quickly, but most grow slowly. In fact, autopsy studies show that many older men (and even some younger men) who died of other causes also had prostate cancer that never affected them during their lives. In many cases, neither they nor their doctors even knew they had it.
How Do They Check For Prostate Cancer?
A biopsy of the prostate is the only way to identify prostate cancer. This procedure involves taking a small tissue sample of the prostate to test for cancerous cells. This is an invasive procedure that is recommended after a positive screening test.
Cancer screening means looking for cancer before it causes symptoms. The goal of screening for prostate cancer is to find cancer early that may spread if not treated.
There are two tests that are to screen for potential prostate cancer.
The first test is blood test called a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test. PSA is a substance your prostate makes. This test measures the level of PSA in your blood. Your PSA level may be high if you have prostate cancer and for many other reasons, such as having an enlarged prostate, a prostate infection, or taking certain medicines.
The second test is a digital rectal examination, when a health care provider inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into a man’s rectum to feel the prostate for anything abnormal, such as cancer.
Who Should Get Tested For Prostate Cancer?
For men aged 55 to 69 years, the decision to undergo periodic prostate-specific antigen (PSA)-based screening for prostate cancer should be an individual one. Before deciding whether to be screened, men should have an opportunity to discuss the potential benefits and harms of screening with their clinician and to incorporate their values and preferences in the decision.
The USPSTF recommends against PSA-based screening for prostate cancer in men 70 years and older.
For more information contact your local healthcare provider.