Prostate cancer is diagnosed in about 1 in 9 men throughout their lifetime. Clear risk associations exist with age, race, and family history - should all men undergo testing?
Increasingly somewhat controversial, population-wide screening in men without symptoms is generally not recommended. However, for some men, the benefits of prostate cancer testing - through clinical examination and the PSA (prostate specific antigen) blood test - are significant.
The PSA is a protein made by both normal and cancer cells in the gland – the laboratory reports a measurement in units of nanograms per milliliter, where numbers above a certain score mean a higher likelihood of finding cancer cells. This test may be offered to men after the age of 40 to establish a baseline for future prostate cancer risk – informed choice of continued testing, through discussion with a health care professional, is encouraged.
Questions you may be asked to determine recommendations for screening are based on: age over 50, immediate family member diagnosed before age 65, diet rich in red meat or high-fat, or above-average weight.
Although several men found to have prostate cancer will never be affected by it, others can have some forms that can be serious and fatal. Knowing your personal risk and implementing appropriate prevention strategies are important. Establishing a diagnosis early can offer a better chance of cure if your prostate cancer requires treatment.
For more information on the diagnosis, treatment, side effects and risk factors for patients and families with a history of prostate cancer, refer to the prostate cancer patient guide produced by the Prostate Cancer Foundation: https://www.pcf.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/ProstateCancerPatientGuide_Singles_Final.pdf