Doctors use several tests to check on the condition of the prostate. They include:
DRE, or digital rectal exam: This is the standard prostate test. A doctor feels the prostate from the rectum, checking for things such as size, lumps, and firmness.
PSA, or prostate-specific antigen test: This blood test measures the amount of a protein called PSA that is produced by prostate cells. Elevated levels may indicate cancer. They are not, though, proof that a man has prostate cancer. Levels may be elevated with non-cancerous prostate conditions such as an enlarged prostate or prostatitis. Levels may be low with prostate cancer. Screening for prostate cancer is controversial.
The American Cancer Society says men should talk to their doctors about the benefits, risks, and limitations of prostate cancer screening before deciding whether to be tested. The group's guidelines make it clear that prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood testing should not occur unless this discussion happens.
For most men at average risk, screening is started at age 50. However, some doctors recommend that men at higher risk of prostate cancer — African-American men or men with a family history of prostate cancer — start screening earlier.
The American Urological Association recommends a first-time test at age 40, with the schedule of follow-up testing to be determined on an individual basis.
If prostate cancer screening is done, it involves a blood test and possibly a prostate exam by your doctor. Whether or not you test is something you and your doctor must decide together.
Prostate biopsy: Men with high PSA results or other symptoms of cancer may have a tissue sample taken of their prostate to determine if cancer is present.
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Archived: March 20, 2014
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