Effective testing for cancer of any kind is absolutely imperative if lives are going to be saved and quality of life preserved. When it comes to prostate cancer, mortality rates have decreased as more accurate testing has been developed that allows for earlier diagnosis and, as a result, the ability to begin treatment as soon as possible. As one in six men in the United States will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime, effective testing is crucial.
Testing for prostate cancer includes a variety of procedures that can help detect prostate cancer so that men can get on the road to recovery as quickly as possible.
Digital Rectal Exam (DRE) – This is the most commonly used screening that takes place during regular examinations. During a DRE, the doctor is able to feel the prostate through the rectum to determine if there any changes to the prostate including lumps or hard areas.
PSA – Blood is taken to determine the level of prostate specific antigen (PSA) in the blood. PSA is an enzyme that is always present in the prostate and small amounts may be present in the bloodstream. However, when there are elevated levels of PSA in the blood, this may be evidence of infection, enlarged prostate, or prostate cancer. Used together, the digital rectal exam and the PSA test can be highly effective in helping to detect evidence of prostate cancer.
If it is indicated that further testing is required, a biopsy may be in order. During a biopsy, tissue samples are taken and examined under a microscope for evidence of cancer.
For those men who are scheduled for testing in cases where prostate cancer may be a concern, it’s important for them to see their doctors armed with their questions including: how cancer may be diagnosed, what can be expected in terms of treatment, what side effects may be expected, and the prognosis. Most importantly, men need to make regular screenings a part of their life, especially if they have risk factors such as age, family history, a diet high in fat, alcohol use, and more.