What Happens Between Appointments
Contact your doctor or nurse if you have any concerns or get any new symptoms or;side effects;between your follow-up appointments.
Its important to speak to them if youre concerned about anything dont worry about them being too busy.
You can get support or advice over the telephone, or they might bring forward the date of your nextfollow-up appointment.
Can I Look For Signs Of Prostate Cancer
Often there are very few signs of prostate cancer, and they can be confused with symptoms of other prostate problems. Some men may experience difficulty passing urine , such as slow starting, a weak flow, a sudden urge to wee and getting up more frequently in the night. But especially in older men, these can often be due to enlarged prostate symptoms where the prostate presses against the bladder and the urethra and affects the flow of urine.
Prostate cancer is slightly different. Usually it grows around the outside of the prostate and doesnt really make the prostate gland bigger in the early stage so doesnt press on the bladder or urethra. However, you can have both BPH and prostate cancer at once so your doctor will want to check it out to be sure.
The prostate is a small gland and its role in life is to secrete fluids into semen to keep sperm in tip top condition. It is tucked between the bladder and the rectum and gradually gets larger as you age.
Pain and difficulty passing urine can frequently be caused by prostatitis, a bacterial infection causing swelling and pain. A urine infection can also often be a cause of troublesome symptoms, particularly in older men. A GP will usually check for an infection early on, but may suggest a prostate cancer check at the same time, usually just to rule it out.
Psa Levels By Age Chart
The main difference between the PSA scores of prostatitis and an;enlarged prostate, compared to prostate cancer, is the ratio of free vs bound PSA within your test sample.
- Prostate Cancer;will have a;higher bound PSA ratio.
- An;enlarged prostate;and;prostatitis;will have a;higher free PSA ratio.
- If your;free PSA;results are;less than 25%, your risk for developing;prostate cancer;is between;10% to 20%.
- If your;free PSA;results are;less than 10%, your risk for developing;prostate cancer;jumps to around;50%.
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Screening Information For Prostate Cancer
Screening for prostate cancer is done to find evidence of cancer in otherwise healthy adults. Two tests are commonly used to screen for prostate cancer:
Digital rectal examination . A DRE is a test in which the doctor inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum and feels the surface of the prostate through the bowel wall for any irregularities.
PSA blood test. There is controversy about using the PSA test to look for prostate cancer in people with no symptoms of the disease. On the one hand, the PSA test is useful for detecting early-stage prostate cancer, especially in those with many risk factors, which helps some get the treatment they need before the cancer grows and spreads. On the other hand, PSA screening may find very-slow-growing prostate cancers that would never threaten someone’s life. As a result, screening for prostate cancer using PSA may lead to treatments that are not needed, which can cause side effects and seriously affect a person’s quality of life.
ASCO recommends that people with no symptoms of prostate cancer and who are expected to live less than 10 years do not receive PSA screening. For those expected to live longer than 10 years, ASCO recommends that they talk with their doctor to find out if the test is appropriate for them.
Other organizations have different recommendations for screening:
Psa Level Risk Analysis
- 15%;of men with a PSA level less than;4 ng/ml;go on to develop prostate cancer.
- 31%;of men with PSA levels between;4 10 ng/ml;have shown to develop prostate cancer.
- 50% 65%;of men with psa scores;over 10 ng/ml;develop prostate cancer.
An important part of the your results is finding both the;
1.;Total;amount of PSA in your blood.
2.;Ratio of free vs bound;PSA.
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What If My Test Results Are Abnormal
If the results of early detection tests like the PSA screening 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.
Recent research has yielded additional tests that in addition to the PSA and subsequent DRE and Biopsy that can give a doctor more information on to determine the probability of both finding cancer during a biopsy and determining how aggressive that cancer is likely to be. Read more on those tests.
Advanced Genomic Testing For Prostate Cancer
The most common lab test;for prostate cancer is advanced genomic testing, which examines a tumor to look for DNA alterations that may be driving the growth of the cancer. By identifying the mutations that occur in a cancer cells genome, doctors may get a clearer picture of the tumors behavior and be able to tailor a patients treatment based on the findings.
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Changes In Your Testicles
Although testicular cancer is rare, it is one of the most common cancers in men aged between 15 and 45. It is also one of the most curable cancers if found early.
The causes of this cancer are unclear, but men who have had an undescended testicle are at increased risk. Be aware of what is normal for you and if you see or feel any changes, see your doctor. Don’t let embarrassment get in the way.
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.Â;
Typical symptoms of prostate cancer, according to the Prostate Conditions Education Council , include:Â;
- 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 Is A Normal Psa Test Result
There is no specific normal or abnormal level of PSA in the blood, and levels may vary over time in the same man. In the past, most doctors considered PSA levels of 4.0 ng/mL and lower as normal. Therefore, if a man had a PSA level above 4.0 ng/mL, doctors would often recommend a prostate biopsy to determine whether prostate cancer was present.
However, more recent studies have shown that some men with PSA levels below 4.0 ng/mL have prostate cancer and that many men with higher levels do not have prostate cancer . In addition, various factors can cause a mans PSA level to fluctuate. For example, a mans PSA level often rises if he has prostatitis or a urinary tract infection. Prostate biopsies and prostate surgery also increase PSA level. Conversely, some drugsincluding finasteride; and dutasteride;, which are used to treat BPHlower a mans PSA level. PSA level may also vary somewhat across testing laboratories.
Another complicating factor is that studies to establish the normal range of PSA levels have been conducted primarily in populations of White men. Although expert opinions vary, there is no clear consensus regarding the optimal PSA threshold for recommending a prostate biopsy for men of any racial or ethnic group.
In general, however, the higher a mans PSA level, the more likely it is that he has prostate cancer. Moreover, a continuous rise in a mans PSA level over time may also be a sign of prostate cancer.
Medical History And Physical Exam
If your doctor suspects you might have prostate cancer, he or she will ask you about any symptoms you are having, such as any urinary or sexual problems, and how long you have had them. You might also be asked about possible risk factors, including your family history.
Your doctor will also examine you. This might include a digital rectal exam , during which the doctor inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into your rectum to feel for any bumps or hard areas on the prostate that might be cancer. If you do have cancer, the DRE can sometimes help tell if its only on one side of the prostate, if its on both sides, or if its likely to have spread beyond the prostate to nearby tissues. Your doctor may also examine other areas of your body.
After the exam, your doctor might then order some tests.
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Why Do I Need A Digital Rectal Examination
Most early prostate cancers cause no symptoms and are found only through early detection by a digital rectal examination and a;prostate-specific antigen test. Recent studies indicate that the combination of DRE and PSA testing is more effective in the early detection of prostate cancer than either procedure is on its own.
What Is It Used For
A PSA test is used to screen for prostate cancer. Screening is a test that looks for a disease, such as cancer, in its early stages, when itâs most treatable. Leading health organizations, such as the American Cancer Society and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , disagree on recommendations for using the PSA test for cancer screening. Reasons for disagreement include:
- Most types of prostate cancer grow very slowly. It can take decades before any symptoms show up.
- Treatment of slow-growing prostate cancer is often unnecessary. Many men with the disease live long, healthy lives without ever knowing they had cancer.
- Treatment can cause major side effects, including erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence.
- Fast-growing prostate cancer is less common, but more serious and often life-threatening. Age, family history, and other factors can put you at higher risk. But the PSA test alone canât tell the difference between slow- and fast-growing prostate cancer.
To find out if PSA testing is right for you, talk to your health care provider.
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What Is The Prostate
The prostate is a small gland in the pelvis, found only in men.
About the size of a satsuma, it’s located between the penis and the bladder, and surrounds the urethra.
The main function of the prostate is to produce a thick white fluid that creates semen when mixed with the sperm produced by the testicles.
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.
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Screening For Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is typically treatable if caught early. More than 90 percent of prostate cancers are found when the disease is in the beginning stages, confined to the prostate and nearby organs.
Unlike screenings for breast;and colon cancers, there are no universal screening guidelines for prostate cancer. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that men age 55 to 69 weigh the benefits and risks before deciding whether they should undergo screening, which is typically performed with a blood test that measures levels of a protein called prostate-specific antigen;.
However, men in high-risk groupssuch as those who are of African-American descent and/or have a first-degree relative diagnosed with prostate cancer before age 65should consider speaking with their doctor about starting screenings at an earlier age.
Men older than 70 shouldnt be routinely screened for prostate cancer, according to the USPSTF.
Regardless of age or risk factors, men should get checked if they suddenly experience issues with urination, erectile dysfunction or unexplained pain.
The USPSTF suggests that, before deciding on a screening, men should seek expert advice about the benefits and harms of screening. Risks may include:
- False positives
- Complications and side effects from biopsies to confirm a diagnosis
- The possibility that a prostate cancer diagnosis wont extend lifespan or improve quality of life
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 .
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How Is Prostate Cancer Treated
For many men with prostate cancer, treatment is not immediately necessary.
If the cancer is at an early stage and not causing symptoms, your doctor may suggest either “watchful waiting” or “active surveillance”.
The best option depends on your age and overall health. Both options involve carefully monitoring your condition.
Some cases of prostate cancer can be cured if treated in the early stages.
- radiotherapy either on its own or alongside hormone therapy
Some cases are only diagnosed at a later stage, when the cancer has spread.
If the cancer spreads to other parts of the body and cannot be cured, treatment is focused on prolonging life and relieving symptoms.
All treatment options carry the risk of significant side effects, including erectile dysfunction and urinary symptoms, such as needing to use the toilet more urgently or more often.
For this reason, some men choose to delay treatment until there’s a risk the cancer might spread.
Newer treatments, such as high-intensity focused ultrasound and cryotherapy, aim to reduce these side effects.
Some hospitals may offer them as an alternative to surgery, radiotherapy or hormone therapy.
But the long-term effectiveness of these treatments is not known yet.
What Research Has Been Done To Study Prostate Cancer Screening
Several randomized clinical trials;of prostate cancer screening have been carried out. One of the largest is the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial, which NCI conducted to determine whether certain screening tests can help reduce the numbers of deaths from several common cancers. In the prostate portion of the trial, the PSA test and DRE were evaluated for their ability to decrease a mans chances of dying from prostate cancer.
The PLCO investigators found that men who underwent annual prostate cancer screening had a higher incidence of prostate cancer than men in the control group but the same rate of deaths from the disease . Overall, the results suggest that many men were treated for prostate cancers that would not have been detected in their lifetime without screening. Consequently, these men were exposed unnecessarily to the potential harms of treatment.
A second large trial, the European Randomized Study of Screening for Prostate Cancer , compared prostate cancer deaths in men randomly assigned to PSA-based screening or no screening. As in the PLCO, men in ERSPC who were screened for prostate cancer had a higher incidence of the disease than control men. In contrast to the PLCO, however, men who were screened had a lower rate of death from prostate cancer .
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Positron Emission Tomography Scan
A PET scan is similar to a bone scan, in that a slightly radioactive substance is injected into the blood, which can then be detected with a special camera. But PET scans use different tracers that collect mainly in cancer cells. The most common tracer for standard PET scans is FDG, which is a type of sugar. Unfortunately, this type of PET scan isnt very useful in finding prostate cancer cells in the body.
However, newer tracers, such as fluciclovine F18, sodium fluoride F18, and choline C11, have been found to be better at detecting prostate cancer cells.
Other newer tracers, such as Ga 68 PSMA-11 and 18F-DCFPyl , attach to prostate-specific membrane antigen , a protein that is often found in large amounts on prostate cancer cells. Tests using these types of tracers are sometimes referred to as PSMA PET scans.
These newer types of PET scans are most often used if its not clear if prostate cancer has spread. For example, one of these tests might be done if the results of a bone scan arent clear, or if a man has a rising PSA level after initial treatment but its not clear where the cancer is in the body.
The pictures from a PET scan arent as detailed as MRI or CT scan images, but they can often show areas of cancer anywhere in the body. Some machines can do a PET scan and either an MRI or a CT scan at the same time, which can give more detail about areas that show up on the PET scan.;
Should You Know Your Psa Level
Instead of a national screening programme, there is an informed choice programme, called prostate cancer risk management, for healthy men aged 50 or over who ask their GP about PSA testing. It aims to give men good information on the pros and cons of a PSA test.
If youâre a man aged 50 or over and decide to have your PSA levels tested after talking to your GP, they can arrange for it to be carried out free on the NHS.
If results show you have a raised level of PSA, your GP may suggest further tests.
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