How should I be screened for prostate cancer?
Talk with your primary care physician or urologist and get a personalized assessment of when you should start screening. Depending on family history, race and other risk factors, starting as early as age 40 may be the right choice. Black men are at highest risk for prostate cancer in the U.S. They also are 2.4 times more likely to die from the disease.
The most common screening involves a blood test called a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test that measures the level of PSA in the blood. PSA is a substance made by the prostate. The levels of PSA in the blood can be higher in men who have prostate cancer, though levels also may be elevated in other conditions that affect the prostate.
How is prostate cancer diagnosed?
If your PSA test is abnormal, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have prostate cancer. Your primary care doctor or urologist may recommend a biopsy to find out if you have prostate cancer. During a biopsy procedure, usually performed by a urologist, a small piece of tissue is removed from the prostate and examined under a microscope to see whether cancer cells are present.
If prostate cancer is diagnosed, the pathologist will grade the biopsied cancer cells, providing a measure of how quickly the cells are likely to grow and spread. Other tests are performed to find out if cancer cells have spread within the prostate or to other parts of the body. This process, called staging, tells doctors what kind of treatment you will need.