How to check
We do not recommend checking for prostate cancer at home because it carries risks such as underdiagnosis and injury to your rectum. A doctor is the only person who is highly skilled to see if you have prostate cancer. With their experience, only they know how a normal prostate feels and if growth on the prostate can be cancerous. Accordingly, they can order additional tests and provide you the most appropriate guidance. They will perform an examination known as digital rectal examination (DRE) and order a blood test known as prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. These are also known as screening tests for cancer. Some laboratories provide at-home testing kits for checking PSA levels. Before trying for one, discuss with your doctor.
Digital rectal examination (DRE):
This is a simple examination performed by doctors in their offices. Doctors will
- Put on gloves.
- Lubricate their fingers.
- Insert one finger gently into your anus till it reaches the rectum.
- Feel the prostate and growths over it, if any.
A hard growth is suggestive of prostate cancer.
You do not require any special preparation before DRE, and you can go home on the same day. The procedure is usually painless but can cause mild discomfort. If you have fissures or piles, you may observe mild spotting/bleeding after you go home. Contact your doctor if bleeding persists or if it is significant.
Immediately after the procedure, your doctor will let you know if your prostate is normal or if there is some abnormality. If they find anything suspicious, they may order further tests such as an ultrasound and blood tests, specifically a PSA test.
PSA is a type of tumor marker that is normally present in your blood. Normal levels of PSA are defined as 4 ng/mL. If you have prostate cancer, PSA levels can become higher than 4 ng/mL. A person with PSA levels higher than 10 ng/mL is at least 50 percent more likely to have prostate cancer. However, having elevated levels of PSA does not necessarily mean that you have prostate cancer. They can also be found
- If you are old.
- If you have ejaculated recently.
- If you are taking testosterone supplements.
- If you have other problems of the prostate such as
- Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)
- Prostatitis (Inflammation and swelling of the prostate)
- If you are on certain medications such as
- Statins (medications for reducing blood cholesterol level)
- Thiazide diuretics (a type of water pills)
- After you have undergone medical procedures such as DRE or a biopsy
Diagnosing prostate cancer:
If the above prostate cancer screening tests detect an abnormality, your doctor may recommend additional tests to confirm if you have prostate cancer. These include
- Ultrasound: To check your prostate, the doctor may use a transrectal ultrasound. It involves inserting a probe into your rectum. The probe uses sound waves to capture images of your prostate and displays them on a screen in the form of moving images. These moving images are printed on a film, whose findings will be mentioned on the ultrasound report.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): An MRI scan of the prostate uses strong magnetic waves projected on your abdomen. These magnetic waves provide a detailed view of the prostate. The test can also help the doctor plan how to take samples of the prostate tissue for further examination.
- Biopsy: A biopsy of the prostate involves removing a sample of your prostate and sending it to the laboratory to examine it under a microscope. This test provides a definitive diagnosis of prostate cancer.
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Early-Stage Prostate Cancer Treatment
If prostate cancer is detected early and appears to be slow-growing, invasive procedures, chemotherapy, radiation and other approaches can sometimes do more harm than good. Many prostate cancer treatments come with side effects, like incontinence or impotence, so it’s in the patient’s interest to put off invasive treatments as long as is medically safe. Active surveillance is where doctors "watch and wait" for changes that could prompt medical intervention.
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How Is Prostate Cancer Diagnosed?
Prostate cancer is largely a disease of men over 40, so it’s around this age doctors recommend the first prostate screening. The first exam is a blood test to determine if there are abnormal prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels in your blood – PSA is produced by the prostate. If the PSA is high, your doctor will perform a digital rectal exam, during which the doctor feels your prostate from inside your rectum with a gloved finger. Other diagnostic tests include an endoscopic biopsy of tumor tissue for analysis in a lab.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men after skin cancer.
- Risk factors include age, family history, ethnicity, and diet.
- Prostate cancer is diagnosed by a digital rectal exam, prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, and prostate biopsy.
- Symptoms may include
- frequent need to urinate,
- incontinence, pain,
- blood in the urine,
- fatigue, and more.
- Prognosis and treatment depend on cancer staging.
- Watchful waiting,
- cryotherapy, and
- other management strategies are available.
- Research and clinical trials strive to find new and better treatments for prostate cancer.
Prostate Cancer QuizIs prostate cancer the most common cancer in men? Take this prostate cancer quiz to find out and learn the causes, symptoms, and treatments of this disease.
Prostate Cancer Facts
Prostate cancer is a leading cause of cancer and cancer death in males; in some men, identifying it early may prevent or delay metastasis and death from prostate cancer.
- The prostate is a walnut-shaped gland that is a part of the male reproductive system that wraps around the male urethra at it exits the bladder.
- Prostate cancer is common in men over 50 years of age, with the risk of developing prostate cancer increases with aging.
Signs of Prostate Cancer: Symptoms, PSA Test, TreatmentsWhat is prostate cancer? Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men. Learn the signs and symptoms of prostate cancer, along with causes and treatments. Know the stages, survival rates and how to lower your risk of prostate cancer.
Prostate Cancer Early Signs and Symptoms
Difficulty with urination – frequency, weak stream, trouble getting started, etc. – is usually the first sign of prostate cancer. But these and other early symptoms of prostatic cancer can also come from benign prostate conditions, so diagnostic testing is important, including PSA tests and digital rectal exam.
Prostate Cancer Staging and Survival Rates
The prognosis for prostate cancer, as with any cancer, depends on how advanced the cancer has become, according to established stage designations. The patient's PSA score at diagnosis, as well as their Gleason score (the grading system used to determine the aggressiveness of prostate cancer) determines the prognosis and final stage designation. Prostate cancer has a high survival rate in general, but your chances depend on the stage of the cancer.
The Early Signs of Prostate CancerProstate cancer in its early stages usually causes no signs and symptoms. Screening can help detect the cancer early.
What Are the 5 Warning Signs of Prostate Cancer?Prostate cancer rarely produces symptoms in the early stage; however, few signs can help in detecting prostate cancer.
What Happens in the Final Stages of Prostate Cancer?Prostate cancer is an abnormal growth of cells in the prostate gland. In the final stages of prostate cancer you may feel grief, get closer with family and friends, and have faith in a power greater than yourself.