Who Should Get A Prostate Exam
Starting at age 50, all men should discuss prostate cancer screening with their doctor. The American Cancer Society advises men at higher risk to have this conversation at age 45.
Youre considered to have an increased risk if youre African-American or if a first-degree relative had prostate cancer before age 65. If more than one first-degree relative had prostate cancer before age 65, you might want to consider beginning prostate cancer screening even earlier.
The ACS estimates there will be about 180,890 new cases of prostate cancer in the United States in 2016. About 26,120 men will die from it.
Prostate cancer is easier to treat before it spreads. However, some prostate cancers are so slow-growing that they dont always require treatment. A lot depends on your age and other factors.
Discuss your risk factors with your doctor, and ask if you should have a prostate exam as part of your yearly checkup.
How Do I Get Ready For A Prostate/rectal Ultrasound
Your healthcare provider will explain the procedure and you can ask questions. Make a list of questions and any concerns with your healthcare provider before the procedure. Consider bringing a family member or trusted friend to the medical appointment to help you remember your questions and concerns.
You may be asked to sign a consent form that gives your permission to do the procedure. Read the form carefully and ask questions if something is not clear.
You may be asked to stop taking blood-thinning medicines, such as aspirin, for a week or so before the test if it is being done as part of a biopsy.
You usually do not need to stop eating or drinking before the test. You also usually will not need medicine to help you relax .
You may be given a small enema before the test.
Follow any other instructions your provider gives you to get ready.
How Can I Check For Signs Of Prostate Cancer
In most cases, prostate cancer doesn’t have any symptoms until the growth is big enough to put pressure on the urethra.
- Needing to urinate more often, especially at night
- Needing to rush to the toilet
- Difficulty in starting to pee
- Weak flow
- Straining and taking a long time while peeing
- Feeling that your bladder hasn’t emptied fully
Many men’s prostates get larger as they age because of non-cancerous conditions called prostate enlargement and benign prostatic hyperplasia.
In fact, these two conditions are more common than prostate cancer – but that doesn’t mean the symptoms should be ignored.
The signs that the cancer has SPREAD include bone, back or testicular pain, loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss.
Men who are black, overweight, over 50 or have a family history of prostate cancer are most at risk.
Method 3 Of 4:diagnosing Prostate Cancer
Diagnosis Of Prostate Cancer
Check out this for a summary of the video.
Diagnosis is the process of finding out the cause of a health problem. Diagnosing prostate cancer usually begins with a visit to your family doctor. Your doctor will ask you about any symptoms you have and do a physical exam. Based on this information, your doctor may refer you to a specialist or order tests to check for prostate cancer or other health problems.
The process of diagnosis may seem long and frustrating. Its normal to worry, but try to remember that other health conditions can cause the same symptoms as prostate cancer. Its important for the healthcare team to rule out other reasons for a health problem before making a diagnosis of prostate cancer.
The following tests are usually used to rule out or diagnose prostate cancer. Many of the same tests used to diagnose cancer are used to find out the stage . Your doctor may also order other tests to check your general health and to help plan your treatment.
What Do The Results Mean
PSA levels may be above the baseline for various reasons other than prostate cancer.
Other factors that can raise PSA levels include:
- older age
- an enlarged prostate â because of benign prostatic hyperplasia , for example
- prostatitis, which is inflammation and swelling of the prostate
Also, people with obesity may have lower PSA readings.
In addition, some medications may reduce PSA levels, including:
- 5-alpha reductase inhibitors, which can help treat BPH
- aspirin, which some people take regularly as a blood thinner
- statins, which help manage cholesterol levels
- thiazide diuretics, a kind of water pill that can help reduce high blood pressure
Some herbal medicines and supplements can also lower PSA levels. Tell the doctor about any medications and supplements before undergoing the test.
High PSA levels alone do not indicate cancer. However, if a DRE also reveals changes, a doctor may recommend a biopsy for a more accurate result.
The PCA3 is another test for prostate cancer that doctors use in some circumstances. Find out more.
Tests To Diagnose And Stage Prostate Cancer
Most prostate cancers are first found as a result of screening. Early prostate cancers usually dont cause symptoms, but more advanced cancers are sometimes first found because of symptoms they cause.
If prostate cancer is suspected based on results of screening tests or symptoms, tests will be needed to be sure. If youre seeing your primary care doctor, you might be referred to a urologist, a doctor who treats cancers of the genital and urinary tract, including the prostate.
The actual diagnosis of prostate cancer can only be made with a prostate biopsy .
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What Happens During A Digital Rectal Exam
Your health care provider will insert a gloved finger into the rectum and feel the prostate for hard, lumpy, or abnormal areas. The test takes only a few minutes to complete.
You may feel slight, momentary discomfort during the test. The procedure does not cause significant pain or any damage to the prostate.
What If I Am Diagnosed With Prostate Cancer
Many people have been where you are standing. Dont lose hope. More than 2.9 million American men have been diagnosed with prostate cancer and are alive today.
The first thing you should consider doing is to find out about the specifics of your cancer. You should know your stage and grade .
From there you can find out what treatment options you want to pursue, if any. Talk to your doctors. Choose a healthcare team of different specialists, or consult a second opinion. You can also do your own research, or talk to men who have been in your position. Many of our advocates are patients and survivors; hear their stories at the video library. Or head to the rest of our website to start some research.
How To Tell If Your Cancer Has Metastasized
Prostate cancer metastasis may be suspected if you have specific symptoms such as new lower back pain or elevated liver enzymes. These may be signs your cancer has spread to your spine or your liver, respectively. If your prostate-specific antigen levels continue to rise despite treatment, especially if they are rising particularly fast, this may be a sign that cancer is metastasizing somewhere in your body.
Use In Men Who Might Have Prostate Cancer
The PSA blood test is used mainly to screen for prostate cancer in men without symptoms. Its also one of the first tests done in men who have symptoms that might be caused by prostate cancer.
PSA in the blood is measured in units called nanograms per milliliter . The chance of having prostate cancer goes up as the PSA level goes up, but there is no set cutoff point that can tell for sure if a man does or doesnt have prostate cancer. Many doctors use a PSA cutoff point of 4 ng/mL or higher when deciding if a man might need further testing, while others might recommend it starting at a lower level, such as 2.5 or 3.
- Most men without prostate cancer have PSA levels under 4 ng/mL of blood. Still, a level below 4 is not a guarantee that a man doesnt have cancer.
- Men with a PSA level between 4 and 10 have about a 1 in 4 chance of having prostate cancer.
- If the PSA is more than 10, the chance of having prostate cancer is over 50%.
If your PSA level is high, you might need further tests to look for prostate cancer.
To learn more about how the PSA test is used to look for cancer, including factors that can affect PSA levels, special types of PSA tests, and what the next steps might be if you have an abnormal PSA level, see Screening Tests for Prostate Cancer.
Further Tests For Prostate Cancer
If results of the PSA test or the DRE are abnormal, a urologist will likely recommend a biopsy, where small samples of tissue are removed from the prostate and examined.
If cancer is diagnosed, other tests may be used to check the progression of the cancer, including:
- magnetic resonance imaging scan of the prostate – often done before a biopsy
- bone scan – to check whether or not cancer cells have spread to the bones
- computed tomography scan – a specialised x-ray
- pelvic lymph node dissection – a nearby lymph node is removed and examined to check whether or not cancer cells have entered the lymphatic system .
Who Should Get A Digital Rectal Exam
Not all medical institutions agree on when men should begin screening for prostate cancer or even if a DRE should be part of the screening.
To help detect prostate cancer in its early stages, the American Cancer Society recommends that men talk to their doctors about the benefits, risks, and limitations of prostate cancer screening before deciding whether to be tested.
For most men at average risk, discussions about screening begin 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.
How Is Prostate Cancer Diagnosed
Prostate cancer is diagnosed with a biopsy of the prostate. A biopsy is usually done if symptoms or a screening raises concern. A prostate cancer screening is a test your doctor uses to look for the disease before you have symptoms. There are two screening tests available: a digital rectal exam and a prostate-specific antigen test. You and your doctor will decide if you need a screening. However, these tests can only tell your doctor whether or not your prostate is healthy. Abnormal test results dont always mean you have cancer. How often you should be screened depends on your age and your personal risk factors.
During a DRE, your doctor will insert his or her gloved, lubricated finger a few inches into your rectum to feel your prostate gland. A normal prostate feels firm. If there are hard spots on the prostate, your doctor may suggest additional testing to check for prostate cancer.
During a PSA test, you will get a blood test. A blood test involves inserting a small needle into a vein in your arm to take a sample of blood. The test measures the level of PSA in your blood. Men who have prostate cancer may have a higher level of PSA in their blood. However, a PSA level can also be high because of less serious causes, such as infection or an enlarged prostate.
If your screening test results are abnormal, your doctor may recommend additional other tests to check for cancer. Those tests may include:
Screenings Can Lead To High Costs
The cost for a PSA test is fairly lowabout $40.
If your result is abnormal, the costs start adding up. Your doctor will usually refer you to a urologist for a biopsy. Costs may include:
- A consultation fee .
- An ultrasound fee .
- Additional professional fees .
- Biopsy fees .
If the biopsy causes problems, there are more costs. You might also have hospital costs.
Questions To Ask The Doctor
- What treatment do you think is best for me?
- Whats the goal of this treatment? Do you think it could cure the cancer?
- Will treatment include surgery? If so, who will do the surgery?
- What will the surgery be like?
- Will I need other types of treatment, too?
- Whats the goal of these treatments?
- What side effects could I have from these treatments?
- What can I do about side effects that I might have?
- Is there a clinical trial that might be right for me?
- What about special vitamins or diets that friends tell me about? How will I know if they are safe?
- How soon do I need to start treatment?
- What should I do to be ready for treatment?
- Is there anything I can do to help the treatment work better?
- Whats the next step?
Factors That Might Affect Psa Levels
One reason its hard to use a set cutoff point with the PSA test when looking for prostate cancer is that a number of factors other than cancer can also affect PSA levels.
Factors that might raise PSA levels include:
- An enlarged prostate: Conditions such as benign prostatic hyperplasia, a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate that affects many men as they grow older, can raise PSA levels.
- Older age: PSA levels normally go up slowly as you get older, even if you have no prostate abnormality.
- Prostatitis: This is an infection or inflammation of the prostate gland, which can raise PSA levels.
- Ejaculation: Thiscan make the PSA go up for a short time. This is why some doctors suggest that men abstain from ejaculation for a day or two before testing.
- Riding a bicycle: Some studies have suggested that cycling may raise PSA levels for a short time , although not all studies have found this.
- Certain urologic procedures: Some procedures done in a doctors office that affect the prostate, such as a prostate biopsy or cystoscopy, can raise PSA levels for a short time. Some studies have suggested that a digital rectal exam might raise PSA levels slightly, although other studies have not found this. Still, if both a PSA test and a DRE are being done during a doctor visit, some doctors advise having the blood drawn for the PSA before having the DRE, just in case.
- Certain medicines: Taking male hormones like testosterone may cause a rise in PSA.
Some things might lower PSA levels :
What Are The Limitations Of Prostate Ultrasound Imaging
Men who have had the tail end of their bowel removed during prior surgery are not good candidates for ultrasound of the prostate gland because this type of ultrasound typically requires placing a probe into the rectum. However, the radiologist may attempt to examine the prostate gland by placing a regular ultrasound imaging probe on the perineal skin of the patient, between the legs and behind the scrotum of the patient. Sometimes the gland can be examined by ultrasound this way, but the images may not be as detailed as with the transrectal probe. An MRI of the pelvis may be obtained as an alternative imaging test, because it may be obtained with an external receiver coil.
Use In Men Already Diagnosed With Prostate Cancer
The PSA test can also be useful if you have already been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
- In men just diagnosed with prostate cancer, the PSA level can be used together with physical exam results and tumor grade to help decide if other tests are needed.
- The PSA level is used to help determine the stage of your cancer. This can affect your treatment options, since some treatments are not likely to be helpful if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
- PSA tests are often an important part of determining how well treatment is working, as well as in watching for a possible recurrence of the cancer after treatment .
Checking For Psa At Home
Itâs best to look for prostate symptoms and then screen using a Prostate Specific Antigen blood test. While there is no physical way for you to check for prostate cancer at home, there are at-home screening options for PSA. imawareâ¢ at-home test for PSA can help screen you for prostate issues.Â
How Serious Is My Cancer
If you have prostate cancer, the doctor will want to find out how far it has spread. This is called the stage of the cancer. You may have heard other people say that their cancer was stage 1 or stage 2. Your doctor will want to find out the stage of your cancer to help decide what types of treatment might be best for you.
The stage is based on the growth or spread of the cancer through the prostate, and if it has spread to other parts of your body. It also includes your blood PSA level and the grade of the cancer. The prostate cancer cells are given a grade, based on how they look under a microscope. Those that look very different from normal cells are given a higher grade and are likely to grow faster. The grade of your cancer might be given as a Gleason score or a Grade Group . Ask your doctor to explain the grade of your cancer. The grade also can helpdecide which treatments might be best for you.
Your cancer can be stage 1, 2, 3, or 4. The lower the number, the less the cancer has spread. A higher number, like stage 4, means a more serious cancer that has spread outside the prostate.
If your cancer hasn’t spread to other parts of the body, it might also be given a risk group. The risk group is based on the extent of the cancer in the prostate, your PSA level, and the results of the prostate biopsy. The risk group can help tell if other tests should be done, and what the best treatment options might be.
How Does The Doctor Know I Have Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer tends to grow slowly over many years. Most men with early prostate cancer dont have changes that they notice. Signs of prostate cancer most often show up later, as the cancer grows.
Some signs of prostate cancer are trouble peeing, blood in the pee , trouble getting an erection, and pain in the back, hips, ribs, or other bones.
If signs are pointing to prostate cancer, tests will be done. Most men will not need all of them, but here are some of the tests you may need:
PSA blood test: PSA is a protein thats made by the prostate gland and can be found in the blood. Prostate cancer can make PSA levels go up. Blood tests will be done to see what your PSA level is and how it changes over time.
Transrectal ultrasound : For this test, a small wand is put into your rectum. It gives off sound waves and picks up the echoes as they bounce off the prostate gland. The echoes are made into a picture on a computer screen.
MRI: This test uses radio waves and strong magnets to make detailed pictures of the body. MRI scans can be used to look at the prostate and can show if the cancer has spread outside the prostate to nearby organs.
Prostate biopsy: For a prostate biopsy, the doctor uses a long, hollow needle to take out small pieces of the prostate where the cancer might be. This is often done while using TRUS or MRI to look at the prostate. The prostate pieces are then checked for cancer cells. Ask the doctor what kind of biopsy you need and how its done.
Psa Test For Prostate Cancer
The prostate gland makes a protein called prostate specific antigen . This protein helps to nourish sperm. Normally, only tiny amounts of it enter the bloodstream.
Cancer cells in the prostate interfere with proper functioning and can cause large amounts of PSA to enter the bloodstream. Therefore, when high levels of PSA are detected in the bloodstream, this may indicate cancer.
Early prostate cancer often has no symptoms. However, high PSA levels can occur five to 10 years before the onset of prostate cancer symptoms. In such circumstances, the PSA test can help to indicate the presence of cancer at an early stage.
Other tests are needed to confirm a diagnosis because an abnormal PSA test can be due to non-cancerous causes. Equally, it is possible for a man to have a normal PSA level when cancer is present.
How Is The Procedure Performed
In men, the prostate gland is located directly in front of the rectum, so the ultrasound exam is performed transrectally in order to position the imaging probe as close to the prostate gland as possible.
For a transrectal ultrasound, you will be asked to lie on your side with your knees bent. A disposable protective cover is placed over the transducer, it is lubricated, inserted through the anus and placed into the rectum.
The images are obtained from different angles to get the best view of the prostate gland.
If a suspicious lesion is identified with ultrasound or with a rectal examination, an ultrasound-guided biopsy can be performed. This procedure involves advancing a needle into the prostate gland while the radiologist watches the needle placement with ultrasound. A small amount of tissue is taken for microscopic examination.
A prostate-specific antigen test, which measures the amount of PSA in the blood, may be administered to determine if a patient is at high risk for cancer. In this case, a biopsy is performed and an ultrasound probe is used to guide the biopsy to specific regions of the prostate gland.
When the exam is complete, you may be asked to dress and wait while the ultrasound images are reviewed.
This ultrasound examination is usually completed in less than 20 minutes.
What If My Test Results Are Abnormal
If the results of early detection tests like the PSA test or the digital rectal exam suggest that you might have prostate cancer, your doctor will conduct further testing. The PSA may be repeated, or you may be sent to a specialist for more tests such as a transrectal ultrasound and a prostate biopsy.
In a prostate biopsy, a tissue sample is taken from your prostate. Cancer can only be diagnosed with a tissue sample.
In addition to a PSA test, DRE , and a biopsy, research has yielded additional tests that can detect if cancer is present, and if so, how aggressive that cancer might be:
- The Prostate Health Index combines three blood tests that give a more accurate Phi Score, which gives accurate information based on a high PSA to better determine the probability of finding cancer during a biopsy.