Can Prostate Cancer Be Found Early
Screening is testing to find cancer in people before they have symptoms. For some types of cancer, screening can help find cancers at an early stage, when they are likely to be easier to treat.
Prostate cancer can often be found early by testing for prostate-specific antigen levels in a mans blood. Another way to find prostate cancer is the digital rectal exam . For a DRE, the doctor puts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to feel the prostate gland. These tests and the actual process of screening are described in more detail in Screening Tests for Prostate Cancer.
If the results of either of these tests is abnormal, further testing is often done to see if a man has cancer.
Do All Men Who Are Treated For Prostate Cancer Lose Sexual And Urinary Function
Its definitely not true that all men are incontinent and impotent after treatment for prostate cancer. Urinary incontinence is usually temporary.
There can be a sexual impact for guys who have normal function. If the cancer is near their nerve bundle, theyre going to have a decrease in sexual function. If its not, and we can do bilateral nerve sparing surgery, studies show 70 percent can get back their normal sexual function. It all depends on where the cancer is. But the truth is that we cant predict very well who will be the 30 percent who will haveor still haveED some already do have ED because of age, diabetes, hypertension or renal failure.
How Often Do I Need A Prostate Exam
Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in men, and its also highly treatable if caught early. There are a number of treatment options that have proven to be successful in combatting prostate cancer, even in its advanced stage.
Early detection is crucial because it gives you more treatment options and a better chance of eliminating cancer. The prostate-specific antigen test is used to check the PSA levels in your blood, and these levels are different for every man the indicator is whether the number is going up as compared to your prior PSA exam result. If your PSA is high the first time you have the test, your doctor may ask you to have a biopsy.
Similarly, your doctor will perform a digital rectal exam during your annual checkup to feel for any lumps or enlargement of your prostate. Lets talk about how often you might need to have a prostate exam and what you can expect.
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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.
Can A Swollen Prostate If Untreated Cause Prostate Cancer
We have no evidence of that. Theyre completely unrelated problems. The area of the prostate that causes urinary symptoms is usually a different part of the prostate than where cancer is likeliest to develop.
Doctors divide the prostate into different zones. The zone that is associated with BPHand the majority of prostate growthis the transition zone. Prostate cancer occurs there much less often than in the peripheral zone, which is the outer area.
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How To Check Prostate Cancer
When youre checking for prostate cancer, its important to know the symptoms. When youre aware of the signs, prostate cancer can be caught early. Because prostate cancer doesnt typically show signs early on, this particular cancer is typically found through PSA blood test or digital rectal exams.
But, there are typically five major warning signs of prostate cancer however, as cancer progresses, symptoms typically involve the urinary system. Because the prostate is located close to the urethra and bladder, symptoms might include 1 :
- Frequent urination
- Hip or back pain
- Leg swelling or weakness
Contact your doctor if you notice any of the above symptoms. And if you do catch any of these symptoms, try not to panic. These particular symptoms can often have to do with non-cancerous conditions of the prostate, as well as bladder infections.
Its important to know that there are also several different types of prostate cancer. The most common types found in prostate cancer patients include:
Prostate Specific Antigen Test
A blood test called a prostate specific antigen test 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. The PSA level may also be elevated in other conditions that affect the prostate.
As a rule, the higher the PSA level in the blood, the more likely a prostate problem is present. But many factors, such as age and race, can affect PSA levels. Some prostate glands make more PSA than others.
PSA levels also can be affected by
- Certain medical procedures.
Two Main Screening Tests
There are two tests commonly used to screen for prostate cancer:
- The Digital Rectal Exam : A doctor or nurse inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to estimate the size of the prostate and feel for lumps or other abnormalities.
- The Prostate Specific Antigen Test: This exam measures the level of PSA in the blood. The levels of PSA in the blood are often higher in men who have prostate cancer. The PSA level may also be high in other conditions that affect the prostate.Usually, the higher the bloods PSA level is, the more likely it is that a prostate problem is present. But other factors, such as age and race, also can raise PSA levels. PSA levels also can be impacted by certain medical procedures, some medications, an enlarged prostate or a prostate infection.
Since your PSA level may be high for other reasons, your doctor will need to interpret the test results.
If the results of the PSA and/or DRE suggest that you might have prostate cancer, your doctor will need to do a prostate biopsy to find out. This means a sample of your prostate tissue will be removed with a needle and sent to a lab, where a specialist will determine if it contains cancer cells.
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 .
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What To Expect From A Prostate Cancer Screening
According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in men, second only to skin cancer. Roughly one in every seven men will deal with the condition at some point in their lifetime. Fortunately, if prostate cancer is caught early, it is generally very treatable. But what should you expect from prostate cancer screening?
Digital Rectal Exam
The primary method used in a prostate cancer screening is the digital rectal exam . During this test, a doctor or qualified nurse will glide a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to check the size of the prostate, while also screening for any abnormalities. You can expect some mild discomfort, but your doctor will do their best to make you as comfortable as possible during the procedure. If at any point you need them to pause the procedure, let them know and they will accommodate you.
This test is entirely safe and will very rarely have any negative side-effects. Still, if you have certain pre-existing health conditions, including some forms of heart disease, be sure to consult with your doctor before signing up for a DRE. Your doctor will be able to recommend the best screening method for your situation.
Doctors can also do a simple blood test to examine your levels of prostate specific antigen , a protein released by the prostate. Elevated levels of PSA could indicate an issue inside the prostate.
What Will I Know Afterwards
A rectal exam can’t definitively diagnose prostate cancer. Only a biopsy can do that and you wont be offered one if you don’t need it. Rectal exams are part of a suite of diagnostic tests, including PSA blood tests and MRI scans, that help to either build or break the case for further investigation.
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What Is A Psa Test
If the doctor finds abnormalities during the DRE, then the patient needs to undergo more tests. A PSA test is very commonly requested. It is also called a prostate-specific antigen test, or a PSA blood test.
A PSA test measures the level of prostate-specific antigen in the patients bloodstream. This is an indicator of various prostate-related conditions. The doctor may use the results from a PSA test to determine the abnormality of the male patients prostate.
Several conditions may be detected through a PSA test. This is because the level of PSA in the body increases when certain things affect the prostate gland.
When the prostate is affected by inflammation, the PSA levels will generally increase. The same happens when the man develops an infection in their prostate.
An enlargement of the prostate gland is also known to elevate the protein levels in the mans body. This is an indication of benign prostatic hyperplasia, a prevalent condition in men. When left untreated, an enlarged prostate can cause problems. This includes a risk of infections bladder infection and urinary tract infections can occur.
A PSA test can also help in the diagnosis of prostate cancer. When cancerous cells develop in the prostate gland, the PSA levels in the mans body will also rise.
What Do You Say To Patients Diagnosed With Prostate Cancer
Something I say to my patients a lot is that, in treating prostate cancer, we end up trying to extend your quantity of life at the cost of your quality of life. And so, at some point, if the quantity is extended a lot, and we can minimize the effect on quality, that makes sense, but the equation is different for every man. How much decrease in quality of life are you willing to accept if were going to extend your life?
Realistically, a lot of guys who are 70 dont have any sexual function anyway, so thats not a huge loss for them. As men get older theres definitely an increased chance of having erectile dysfunction the guys who have sexual function over 70 are very keen on preserving it. Even for the guys who dont have good sexual function, who are on Viagra, for them its often even more important to preserve what sexual function they have.
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Biopsy During Surgery To Treat Prostate Cancer
If there is more than a very small chance that the cancer might have spread , the surgeon may remove lymph nodes in the pelvis during the same operation as the removal of the prostate, which is known as a radical prostatectomy .
The lymph nodes and the prostate are then sent to the lab to be looked at. The lab results are usually available several days after surgery.
What Are The Symptoms Of Prostate Cancer
Not everyone with prostate cancer has symptoms, so regular screening should be a part of your annual physical, starting at the age of 40-50. However, prostate symptoms should never be ignored and should be brought up to a physician.
Typical symptoms of prostate cancer, according to the Prostate Conditions Education Council , include:
- Frequent urination
- Weak urinary stream
- Pain or burning during urination
- Blood in the urine or ejaculate
- Bone pain in the hips, ribs or back
- Back pain
Read our guide to common pee problems that may be signs of prostate cancer if you are experiencing urination problems.
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What If I Am Diagnosed With Prostate Cancer
Many people have been where you are standing. Dont lose hope. More than 3.1 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.
Determining who needs treatment for prostate cancer has evolved with new options to diagnose aggressive vs. indolent disease. Check out our infographic with more information on what genomic and advanced tests are available based on a mans individual cancer.
Touching Your Prostate With Your Finger
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How Do Men Feel About The Rectal Exam
I think most men are willing to do it, but some men are exceptionally opposed to it. They might be happy to hear that there are studies ongoing in the United Kingdom looking at using magnetic resonance imaging as a screening tool to be able to avoid doing a digital rectal exam in the future. There is a large African immigrant population in London with a higher incidence of prostate cancerthey didnt want to have the prostate exam because they had a lot of opposition to it. They were uncomfortable with it.
Another Option: Digital Rectal Exams
Most prostate biopsies are driven by PSA results. Urologists also use the digital rectal exam, or DRE.
“The American Urological Association hasn’t recommended rectal exams because there has yet to be a randomized trial in which some men get the rectal exam and some don’t. Based on who lives and dies, this would show if rectal exams have value,” says Dr. Freedland. “Many people, myself included, think they do have value. It’s part of the evaluation that we use even if it’s not officially in our guidelines.”
The DRE may cause momentary discomfort, but it can also detect prostate cancer for those patients with normal PSA levels. “We use the exam because we think it should work and be helpful, even if it hasn’t been studied,” Dr. Freedland adds. “Most people are screened with PSA and DRE.”
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What Tests Detect Prostate Cancer Early
Because prostate cancer cant necessarily be detected at home, its a good idea to learn about the tests that provide early detection 2 . Keep in mind that these tests cant decipher whether or not you have prostate cancer and, following the test, your doctor will most likely suggest a prostate biopsy. If youre wondering how to check for prostate cancer at home, your best bet is to leave it to your health care professional.