There are no standard or routine screening tests for prostate cancer. Studies are being done to find ways to make prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing more accurate for early cancer detection. A PSA test or digital rectal exam (DRE) may be able to detect prostate cancer at an early stage:
- DRE: It is an exam of the rectum (end part of the bowel). The doctor inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into the lower part of the rectum to feel the prostate for lumps or anything else that seems unusual.
- PSA test: It is a test that measures the level of PSA in the blood. PSA is a substance made mostly by the prostate that may be found in an increased amount in the blood of men who have prostate cancer. The PSA level may also be high in men who have an infection or inflammation of the prostate or benign prostatic hyperplasia (an enlarged, but non-cancerous, prostate). A free PSA is a more precise marker for those who are at a high-risk case.
- Prostate cancer gene 3 (PCA3) RNA test: If a man has a high PSA level, a biopsy of the prostate does not show cancer, and the PSA level remains high after the biopsy, a PCA3 RNA test may be done. This test measures the amount of PCA3 RNA in the urine after a DRE. If the PCA3 RNA level is higher than normal, another biopsy may help diagnose prostate cancer.
- Prostate health index (PHI): This measures three different forms of the PSA protein to detect any prostate abnormalities including cancer.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan: An MRI scan uses a powerful magnet and radio waves to build up detailed pictures of the inside of the body. The doctor may suggest this scan to help work out if a biopsy is needed. An MRI can be used to show whether cancer has spread from the prostate to nearby areas. It can also help guide the biopsy needle. A specialized type of MRI called multi-parametric magnetic resonance imaging (mpMRI) is used for people suspected of having prostate cancer. This combines the results of three MRI images to provide a more detailed image.
What are the causes of prostate cancer?
The exact cause of prostate cancer is still unknown. Current risk factors for prostate cancer include:
- Age: The risk of prostate cancer increases with age.
- Race: African American men are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer and to die from the disease.
- Family history: Men with a family history of prostate, breast, ovarian, colon, or pancreatic cancers may be at an increased risk of prostate cancer.
- Genetic mutations: Inherited mutations of BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes increase the risk of breast, ovarian, and prostate cancer in some families.
- Diet: Studies have indicated that there may be a link between a high-fat diet and the cause or prevention of prostate cancer.
- Chemical exposure: Exposure to certain chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides may have higher than average rates of prostate cancer. Veterans who were exposed to the defoliate Agent Orange are 49% more likely than non-exposed veterans to be diagnosed with prostate cancer.
- Firefighter: Recent studies have reported that firefighters are at a 28% higher risk to prostate cancer than the general population.
How is prostate cancer treated?
Not all prostate cancer requires treatment. Depending on the level of risk and stage of the disease, there are many different approaches to treating prostate cancer. Common approaches include:
- Active surveillance: This is often recommended for patients with low-grade prostate cancer. Prostate cancer can take a long time to grow. Active surveillance uses the latest imaging technologies to watch it and make sure it is not progressing.
- Surgical treatment options: Surgeons continually integrate innovative approaches into their practice to offer patients safer and more effective treatments. Minimally invasive surgical treatments include laparoscopic surgery and robotic-assisted surgery. Patients may also undergo removal of the prostate through more conventional surgery.
- Brachytherapy (radioactive seed implantation): In this treatment, radioactive seeds are implanted permanently in the prostate to give off radiation and provide localized treatment to the tumor.
- Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT): By targeting intense radiation on prostate tumors, urologists can minimize or even destroy them completely.
- Surgery, radiation, and hormonal therapy: These approaches can cause erectile dysfunction and other complications related to sexual health. However, within two years most men regain their potency and return to the sex life that they had before treatment.
Marks LS, Bostwick DG. Prostate Cancer Specificity of PCA3 Gene Testing: Examples from Clinical Practice. Rev Urol. 2008;10(3):175-181. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2556484/
Top How Is Prostate Cancer Screening Done? Related Articles
Enlarged Prostate (BPH, Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia)Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH or enlarged prostate) is very common in men over 50 years of age. Half of all men over the age of 50 develop symptoms of BPH, but few need medical treatment. This noncancerous enlargement of the prostate can impede urine flow, slow the flow of urine, create the urge to urinate frequently and cause other symptoms like complete blockage of urine and urinary tract infections. More serious symptoms are urinary tract infections (UTIs) and complete blockage of the urethra, which may be a medical emergency. BPH is not cancer. Not all men with the condition need treatment, and usually is closely monitored if no symptoms are present. Treatment measures usually are reserved for men with significant symptoms, and can include medications, surgery, microwave therapy, and laser procedures. Men can prevent prostate problems by having regular medical checkups that include a prostate exam.
Common Medical Abbreviations & Terms
Doctors, pharmacists, and other health-care professionals use abbreviations, acronyms, and other terminology for instructions and information in regard to a patient's health condition, prescription drugs they are to take, or medical procedures that have been ordered. There is no approved this list of common medical abbreviations, acronyms, and terminology used by doctors and other health- care professionals. You can use this list of medical abbreviations and acronyms written by our doctors the next time you can't understand what is on your prescription package, blood test results, or medical procedure orders. Examples include:
- ANED: Alive no evidence of disease. The patient arrived in the ER alive with no evidence of disease.
- ARF: Acute renal (kidney) failure
- cap: Capsule.
- CPAP: Continuous positive airway pressure. A treatment for sleep apnea.
- DJD: Degenerative joint disease. Another term for osteoarthritis.
- DM: Diabetes mellitus. Type 1 and type 2 diabetes
- HA: Headache
- IBD: Inflammatory bowel disease. A name for two disorders of the gastrointestinal (BI) tract, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis
- JT: Joint
- N/V: Nausea or vomiting.
- p.o.: By mouth. From the Latin terminology per os.
- q.i.d.: Four times daily. As in taking a medicine four times daily.
- RA: Rheumatoid arthritis
- SOB: Shortness of breath.
- T: Temperature. Temperature is recorded as part of the physical examination. It is one of the "vital signs."
CryotherapyCryotherapy, sometimes referred to as cryosurgery, is a pain treatment procedure that uses a method of localized freezing temperatures to deaden an irritated nerve. Cryotherapy can be used to treat nerve irritation between the ribs (intercostal neuralgia), cluneal nerve entrapment, ilioinguinal neuroma, hypogastric neuromas, lateral femoral cutaneous nerve entrapment, and interdigital neuromas, nerve entrapment (pinched nerves), and neuromas.
BPH SlideshowBenign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) is a condition cause by an enlarged prostate. Get more information on how an enlarged prostate is diagnosed and available treatment for enlarged prostate glands.
How Does Prostate Cancer Kill You in the End?Prostate cancer is cancer of the prostate gland in men. Death from prostate cancer most often happens when cancer has spread (metastasized) to other organs in the body.
How Quickly Does Prostate Cancer Spread?Prostate cancer is a cancer that develops in the prostate gland in men and it is one of the most common types of cancer. In some cases, it can take up to eight years to spread from the prostate to other parts of the body (metastasis), typically the bones. In other cases, it may be more aggressive.
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.
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.
Illustrations of ProstateSide View of the Prostate. The prostate is a walnut-sized gland located between the bladder and the penis. See a picture of the Prostate and learn more about the health topic.
Prostatitis (Inflammation of the Prostate Gland)Prostatitis is an inflammation of the prostate gland. Signs and symptoms of prostatitis include painful or difficulty urinating; fever; chills; body aches; blood in the urine; pain in the rectum, groin, abdomen, or low back; and painful ejaculation or sexual dysfunction. Causes of prostatitis include STDs, bacteria from urinary tract infections, or E. coli. Treatment for prostatitis depends on if it is a bacterial infection or chronic inflammation of the prostate gland.
Prostatitis vs. BPH (Enlarged Prostate): What Is the Difference?Prostatitis and BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia, enlarged prostate gland) are both conditions of the prostate gland. Check out the center below for more medical references on prostate gland conditions, including multimedia (slideshows, images, and quizzes), related disease conditions, treatment and diagnosis, medications, and prevention or wellness.
What Foods Kill Prostate Cancer?Prostate cancer refers to the uncontrolled growth of cells in the prostate gland. There is no particular food or recipe that can directly kill prostate cancer cells. Some foods that may be helpful in prostate cancer recovery and relapse prevention include foods containing lycopene, beans, green tea, cruciferous vegetables and fruit like cranberries, strawberries, blueberries and pomegranates.
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.