How Are Researchers Trying To Improve The Psa Test
Scientists are investigating ways to improve the PSA test to give doctors the ability to better distinguish cancerous from benign conditions and slow-growing cancers from fast-growing, potentially lethal cancers. None has been proven to decrease the risk of death from prostate cancer. Some of the methods being studied include:
Craig Melvin And Al Roker Premiere ‘get Checked’ Psa
Dr. Matthew Rettig, the medical director of the Prostate Cancer Program at the Institute of Urologic Oncology at UCLA in California, said that even if screenings aren’t performed right away, men should at least start talking about them with their doctors early in life.
“I think I would have that conversation fairly early on in life, maybe even in 30s or 40s, about when to initiate screening,” said Retting. “I think that would be most important for patients who are at high risk for prostate cancer and high risk for early onset of prostate cancer. Those are the types of patients that probably ought to have the discussion and make a decision about when to start screening at a relatively young age.”
Why Are Prostate Exams Performed
A lot of men do not realize the importance of a frequent prostate exam. When a man goes for a general check-up with his doctor, a prostate exam may be advised. This is considered part of a general health check-up.
It is generally advised that men undergo frequent health screenings once they reach the age of 40 . Research shows that this is the time when the risk of several prostate conditions increases.
For this reason, after 40, a man should ensure they obtain a prostate exam as part of their health screening.
The main reason why a doctor may advise on a prostate exam is to feel for any abnormalities with the mans prostate. This helps detect prostate disease. It is usually possible for a doctor to determine the health of the mans prostate through this examination. Further testing may be needed too.
The doctor can detect different prostate problems through a prostate exam. It is often considered the initial diagnostic option. The prostate exam itself can give a doctor an indication if there is an enlargement or swelling in the prostate gland. It also helps to determine prostate health.
In most cases, a prostate exam alone will not be the only diagnostic tool. After a digital rectal exam is done, the doctor will order additional tests if abnormalities are identified. This will help to diagnose problems like cancer and prostate enlargement.
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What Is The Prostate
The prostate is a small gland in men that helps make semen. Located just below the bladder in front of the rectum, it wraps around the tube that carries urine and semen out of the body. It tends to grow larger as you get older. If your prostate gets too large, it can cause a number of health issues.
What Is The Chance Of A Diagnosis Of Prostate Cancer
Around 17,000 new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed each year in Australia. It affects mostly men in older age groups and is rare in men under 50 years of age.
The chance of developing prostate cancer is significantly higher in men who have a close relative with prostate cancer the risks are higher if the relative was diagnosed before the age of 60.
If you have a family history of prostate cancer, talk to your doctor.
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What Is A Digital Rectal Exam
The most common way for doctors to check on the health of your prostate is with a DRE. Its a fairly quick and simple procedure.
For the exam, youll bend at the waist while standing or lie on your side with your knees bent toward your chest.
Your doctor will lubricate a gloved finger and gently place it inside your rectum. Theyll press one hand on your prostate, and their other hand will feel your pelvic area. It should only take a few moments.
You may experience momentary discomfort. You may also feel the urge to urinate, especially if your prostate is enlarged or inflamed.
Your doctor will be able to tell you if your prostate seems to be a normal size and shape. In general, a DRE has no risks.
How Is Prostate Cancer Detected
There is no single test to detect prostate cancer. The two most common tests are the prostate specific antigen blood test and the digital rectal examination .
The PSA test measures the level of PSA in your blood. It does not specifically test for cancer. Virtually all PSA is produced by the prostate gland. The normal range depends on your age. A PSA above the typical range may indicate the possibility of prostate cancer. However, two-thirds of cases of elevated PSA are due to noncancerous conditions such as prostatitis and BPH.
A DRE is generally conducted by a urologist to feel the prostate. While DRE is no longer recommended as a routine test for men who do not have symptoms of prostate cancer, it may be used to check for any changes in the prostate before doing a biopsy.
If either of these tests suggest an abnormality, other tests are necessary to confirm a diagnosis of prostate cancer, usually a magnetic resonance imaging scan and transrectal ultrasound biopsy.
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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.
What Happens After The Exam
When abnormalities are found with the rectal exam, the doctor will order a PSA test. After the results for PSA testing are returned, the doctor will analyze the measurements of prostate-specific antigen in the patients blood.
The findings of the PSA test determine what the doctor will do next.
If the doctor suspects prostate cancer, other tests may be requested. A transrectal ultrasound is often requested. This gives the doctor a visual view of the patients prostate gland.
Cancerous growths can be observed through this type of ultrasound test. The test is also relatively quick to perform. Men may experience discomfort when an ultrasound is performed. The discomfort should not last long, however.
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Why Should I Get Both Prostate Cancer Screenings
Both screenings provide valuable information about your health that can detect prostate cancer, even at an early stage. One result without the other may not provide enough indication of whether or not treatment is necessary.
There are many reasons why a mans prostate may be enlarged, and prostate cancer is only one. When paired with a PSA blood test, results can better indicate whether further testing is needed to determine a diagnosis.
When To Get A Prostate Cancer Screening
A prostate screening can help your doctor find prostate cancer early, but youll need to decide if the benefits of the exam outweigh the risks. Have a discussion with your doctor about prostate cancer screenings.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force now recommends that men ages 55 to 69 decide for themselves whether to undergo a prostate-specific antigen screening test, after talking it over with their doctor.
They recommend against screening for men at or above the age of 70.
The American Cancer Society strongly recommends that no one be screened without discussion of the uncertainties, risks, and potential benefits of prostate cancer screening.
They give these specific recommendations for the date at which these discussions with a healthcare provider should take place:
- Age 50 for men who are at average risk of prostate cancer and are expected to live at least 10 more years.
- Age 45 for men at high risk of developing prostate cancer. This includes African Americans and men who have a first-degree relative diagnosed with prostate cancer at an early age .
- Age 40 for men at even higher risk .
You should also speak with your doctor about a prostate exam if youre experiencing symptoms of a prostate problem, such as frequent or painful urination or blood in your urine.
After this discussion, if you decide to get a prostate cancer screening, the ACS and the American Urologic Association recommend getting a prostate-specific antigen blood test.
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Prostate Specific Antigen Testing
Prostate Specific Antigen is a protein made by the cells in your prostate. Your PSA levels can be measured using a blood test and give an indication of your prostate health.
A PSA test isnt a test for cancer. Higher levels of PSA might indicate prostate cancer, but a high reading could also be caused by other conditions. It is also possible to have low level readings and have prostate cancer. This means that a PSA test isnt enough to definitively diagnose or rule out prostate cancer. Your PSA levels can vary, so your doctor might run this test a few times to compare your results and help determine your risk of prostate cancer.
What Are The Symptoms Of Prostate Problems
The symptoms of prostate problems may include
- urinary retentionthe inability to empty the bladder completely
- urinary frequencyurination eight or more times a day
- urinary urgencythe inability to delay urination
- urinary incontinencethe accidental loss of urine
- nocturiafrequent urination at night
- trouble beginning a urine stream
- weak or interrupted urine stream
- blockage of urine
- urine that has an unusual color or odor
- pain after ejaculation or during urination
Different prostate problems may have similar symptoms. For example, one man with prostatitis and another with BPH may both experience urinary urgency. Sometimes symptoms for the same prostate problem differ among individuals. For example, one man with BPH may have trouble beginning a urine stream, while another may experience nocturia. A man in the early stages of prostate cancer may have no symptoms at all. Because of this confusing array of symptoms, a thorough medical exam and testing are vital.
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Should I Have A Prostate Cancer Screening Test
Routine testing for prostate cancer in all men without symptoms is not recommended in New Zealand at present. Being tested for prostate cancer is your choice. Learning about the pros and cons of prostate testing can help you decide if it is right for you.
To help you decide if a prostate check is right for you, the Ministry of Health has developed the Kupe website. It will help you understand the risks, benefits and implications of prostate testing, so you can have an informed conversation with your doctor.
If you are unsure about whether you need to get tested for prostate cancer, contact your GP for a discussion on the risks and benefits of testing.
An Abnormal Psa Test: What Comes Next
If your PSA score is in the abnormal range, your doctor may recommend yourepeat the PSA test. If your levels are still high, your doctor mightrecommend one of the newer prostate cancer screening tests available today.
These tests can help better assess your risk for prostate cancer anddetermine whether a biopsy is necessary. Only a prostate biopsy candefinitively diagnose prostate cancer.
For individualized recommendations that suit you, ask your doctor about:
- What age you should start prostate cancer screening
- New blood, urine and imaging tests that are available
- Improved biopsy techniques, if applicable
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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 Is The Psa Test
Prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, is a protein produced by normal, as well as malignant, cells of the prostate gland. The PSA test measures the level of PSA in a mans blood. For this test, a blood sample is sent to a laboratory for analysis. The results are usually reported as nanograms of PSA per milliliter of blood.
The blood level of PSA is often elevated in men with prostate cancer, and the PSA test was originally approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 1986 to monitor the progression of prostate cancer in men who had already been diagnosed with the disease. In 1994, FDA approved the use of the PSA test in conjunction with a digital rectal exam to test asymptomatic men for prostate cancer. Men who report prostate symptoms often undergo PSA testing to help doctors determine the nature of the problem.
In addition to prostate cancer, a number of benign conditions can cause a mans PSA level to rise. The most frequent benign prostate conditions that cause an elevation in PSA level are prostatitis and benign prostatic hyperplasia . There is no evidence that prostatitis or BPH leads to prostate cancer, but it is possible for a man to have one or both of these conditions and to develop prostate cancer as well.
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What Are The Risks Of A Prostate Exam
In the medical community, there is some controversy regarding the risks and benefits of a prostate exam. When a DRE is performed and irregularity is detected, 50% of the time there is prostate cancer and 50% of the time there isnt. The risk, then, becomes over-treatment.
Although not a physical health risk, the possibility of further testing, such as a prostate biopsy or an MRI of the prostate, can be anxiety-provoking.
Overall, the benefits highly outweigh the risks. Patients should discuss the pros and cons of prostate cancer screening with their physician to make the best decision for their health.
As men age, they can face physical, sexual and medical health concerns that have an impact on their everyday lives. Making healthy lifestyle choices, like exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet, along with regular checkups and screening tests can help prevent or lead to early treatment of many men’s health threats.
What Happens After The Dre
If any abnormalities are found during the DRE, the doctor may order more tests and possibly schedule a prostate biopsy to see if there are any signs of cancer present.
If there are no signs of prostate cancer found during screening, the results of the PSA blood test may help to determine the time between future prostate cancer screenings. PSA levels vary by age and other factors.
Ultimately, you and your doctor will decide how often you should be screened since your diet, health and lifestyle habits are all factors on the timing and frequency of your prostate cancer screenings. Be sure to consult with your doctor if you notice any changes in your health.
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What To Expect During The Exam
You can get a prostate exam easily and quickly at your doctors office. Generally, for cancer screenings, your doctor will take a simple blood test.
Your doctor might also choose to perform a DRE. Before performing this exam, your doctor will ask you to change into a gown, removing your clothing from the waist down.
During a DRE, your doctor will ask you to bend over at the waist or lie on the exam table in a fetal position, with your knees to your chest. They will then insert a gloved, lubricated finger into your rectum.
Your doctor will feel for anything abnormal, such as bumps or hard or soft areas that might indicate a problem. Your doctor may also be able to feel if your prostate is enlarged.
A digital rectal exam can be uncomfortable, especially if you have hemorrhoids, but isnt overly painful. It will last only a couple of minutes.
A DRE is one of your doctors tools that can help them detect several prostate and rectal problems, including:
- prostate cancer
- abnormal masses in your rectum and anus
Your doctor will be able to tell immediately if there are any areas of concern that may warrant further testing.
The results of a DRE exam are either normal or abnormal, but doctors typically rely on several different tests to help them make a prostate cancer diagnosis.
If your doctor feels something abnormal during the DRE, they will probably recommend getting a PSA blood test, if you havent done so already.
- transrectal ultrasound
When Should I Get Tested
Deciding to get tested is a personal decision made after a consultation with your doctor. Some important factors to consider are your age, race, family history, and history of exposure . Visit our Am I at Risk?page to learn more and check out our recommended age and testing guidelines, which are based on the NCCN provided recommendations.
All men are at risk of prostate cancer, so it is important to talk with your doctor to make an informed decision. Detecting prostate cancer early gives you the best chance of living longer. In fact, when it is caught early, the 5-year survival rate is over 99 percent.
Talk to Nathan about Prostate Cancer Screening is an interactive conversation that can help you decide whether to get screened. In partnership with the CDC, Nathan was developed to share information and answer your questions about prostate cancer screening and treatment. He also suggests some questions you might want to ask your doctor. Click the image below to get started!