Screening For Prostate Cancer In African American Men
In the United States, African American men are more likely to develop prostate cancer than white men . African American men are also more than twice as likely as white men to die of prostate cancer .1 The higher death rate is attributable in part to an earlier age at cancer onset, more advanced cancer stage at diagnosis, and higher rates of more aggressive cancer . These differences in death from prostate cancer may also reflect that African American men have lower rates of receiving high-quality care.
The USPSTF searched for evidence about the potential benefits and harms of PSA-based screening for prostate cancer in African American men.
The PLCO trial enrolled 4% African American men, which is not enough to determine whether the overall trial results differed for African American men.17 The ERSPC trial did not record or report any race-specific subgroup information. The low proportion of persons of African descent in European countries during the study period makes it likely that these groups were not well represented.
An analysis from the PLCO trial found that African American men were significantly more likely to have major infections after prostate biopsy than white men .13 Evidence is insufficient to compare the risk of false-positive results, potential for overdiagnosis, and magnitude of harms from prostate cancer treatment in African American vs other men.
Advising African American Men
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 you’re 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.
There Is No Standard Or Routine Screening Test For Prostate Cancer
Although there are no standard or routine screening tests for prostate cancer, the following tests are being used or studied to screen for it:
Digital rectal exam
Digital rectal exam is an exam of the rectum. The doctor or nurse inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into the lower part of the rectum to feel the prostate for lumps or anything else that seems unusual.
Prostate-specific antigen test
A prostate-specific antigen test is a test that measures the level of PSA in the blood. PSA is a substance made mostly by the prostate that may be found in an increased amount in the blood of men who have prostate cancer. The level of PSA may also be high in men who have an infection or inflammation of the prostate or benign prostatic hyperplasia .
A PSA test or a DRE may be able to detect prostate cancer at an early stage, but it is not clear whether early detection and treatment decrease the risk of dying from prostate cancer.
Studies are being done to find ways to make PSA testing more accurate for early cancer detection.
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Prostate Cancer Screening Patient Version
On This Page
Screening is looking for cancer before a person has any symptoms. This can help findcancer at an early stage. When abnormaltissue or cancer is found early, it maybe easier to treat. By the time symptoms appear, cancer may have begunto spread.
Scientists are trying to better understand whichpeople are more likely to get certain types of cancer. They also study the thingswe do and the things around us to see if they cause cancer. Thisinformation helps doctors recommend who should be screened for cancer, whichscreening tests should be used, and how often the tests should be done.
It is important to remember that your doctor does not necessarilythink you have cancer if he or she suggests a screening test. Screeningtests are given when you have no cancer symptoms. Screening tests may be repeated on a regular basis.
If a screening test result is abnormal, you may need to have more tests done to find out if you have cancer. These are called diagnostic tests.
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 hasnt recommended rectal exams because there has yet to be a randomized trial in which some men get the rectal exam and some dont. 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. Its part of the evaluation that we use even if its 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 hasnt been studied, Dr. Freedland adds. Most people are screened with PSA and DRE.
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Should I Get Screened For Prostate Cancer
This video helps men understand their prostate cancer screening options.
In 2018, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force made the following recommendations about prostate cancer screeningexternal icon
- Men who are 55 to 69 years old should make individual decisions about being screened for prostate cancer with a prostate specific antigen test.
- Before making a decision, men should talk to their doctor about the benefits and harms of screening for prostate cancer, including the benefits and harms of other tests and treatment.
- Men who are 70 years old and older should not be screened for prostate cancer routinely.
This recommendation applies to men who
- Are at average risk for prostate cancer.
- Are at increased risk for prostate cancer.
Other organizations, like the American Urological Association,external icon the American Cancer Society,external icon and the American College of Physiciansexternal icon may have other recommendations.
Effectiveness Of Early Detection
Potential Benefits of Screening
To understand the potential benefits of PSA-based screening for prostate cancer, the USPSTF examined the results of the ERSPC, PLCO, and CAP trials and site-specific reports from 4 ERSPC trial sites. To understand the effectiveness of treatment of screen-detected, early-stage prostate cancer, the USPSTF also examined the results of 3 randomized trials and 9 cohort studies.3
The ERSPC trial randomly assigned a core group of more than 160,000 men aged 55 to 69 years from 7 European countries to PSA-based screening vs usual care.8 Four ERSPC sites reported on the cumulative incidence of metastatic prostate cancer. After a median follow-up of 12 years, the risk of developing metastatic prostate cancer was 30% lower among men randomized to screening compared with usual care . The absolute reduction in long-term risk of metastatic prostate cancer associated with screening was 3.1 cases per 1000 men.11 After a median follow-up of 13 years, the prostate cancer mortality rate among men aged 55 to 69 years was 4.3 deaths per 10,000 person-years in the screening group and 5.4 deaths per 10,000 person-years in the usual care group .8 The ERSPC trial did not find a reduction in all-cause mortality.8
Neither the ERSPC, PLCO, or CAP trials, nor any of the ERSPC site-specific analyses, found an overall all-cause mortality benefit from screening for prostate cancer.
Potential Benefits of Treatment
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Prostate Cancer: Advancements In Screenings
Dr. Christian Paul Pavlovich
You may know thatprostate canceris one of the most common cancer types in men. The good news is that thereare many treatment and management options, even if the cancer is caught ata later stage.
What you may not know: There are several options when it comes toprostate cancer screening. After considering multiple factors, your doctor may recommend theprostate-specific antigen test, and/or one of the newer screeningtests that are now available.
Johns Hopkins urologistChristian Pavlovich, M.D., explains what you should know.
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.
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Prostate Cancer Screening Ages 55 To 69
This is the age range where men will benefit the most from screening.Thats because this is the time when:
- Men are most likely to get cancer
- Treatment makes the most sense, meaning when treatment benefits outweigh any potential risk of treatment side effects
Most men will get prostate cancer if they live long enough. Some prostatecancers are more aggressive others can be slow-growing. Doctors will takeyour age and other factors into consideration before weighing the risks andbenefits of treatment.
You should ask your doctor how often he or she recommends you get screened.For most men, every two to three years is enough.
Depending on the results of your first PSA test, your doctor may recommendyou get screened less frequently.
Touching Your Prostate With Your Finger
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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.
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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American Cancer Society Recommendations For Prostate Cancer Early Detection
The American Cancer Society recommends that men have a chance to make an informed decision with their health care provider about whether to be screened for prostate cancer. The decision should be made after getting information about the uncertainties, risks, and potential benefits of prostate cancer screening. Men should not be screened unless they have received this information. The discussion about screening should take place at:
- 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 .
After this discussion, men who want to be screened should get the prostate-specific antigen blood test. The digital rectal exam may also be done as a part of screening.
If, after this discussion, a man is unable to decide if testing is right for him, the screening decision can be made by the health care provider, who should take into account the mans general health preferences and values.
If no prostate cancer is found as a result of screening, the time between future screenings depends on the results of the PSA blood test:
- Men who choose to be tested who have a PSA of less than 2.5 ng/mL may only need to be retested every 2 years.
- Screening should be done yearly for men whose PSA level is 2.5 ng/mL or higher.
Research Into Prostate Cancer Screening
Many prostate cancers grow very slowly and dont cause men any problems in their lifetime. Overall, evidence from trials of prostate screening has shown that prostate cancer screening does not reduce the number of men dying from prostate cancer.
The Cancer Research UK CAP trial looked at whether a single PSA blood test would reduce the number of men dying of prostate cancer. This was a large UK study with over 400,000 men between the ages of 50 and 69 taking part. Around half the men were offered a PSA blood test the other half weren’t.
The results in early 2018 showed that the number of men dying from prostate cancer was the same in both groups. This was after 10 years of follow up. The researchers say that this trial doesnt support PSA testing as a screening test for prostate cancer. They say we need more research to find a better screening test.
This supports what the 2013 Cochrane review found. This looked at screening research from a number of trials and concluded that prostate cancer screening did not reduce the number of men dying from prostate cancer.
Research looking at doing more than one test doesnt show that this would help either. Increasing the number of tests could increase the level of harms such as diagnosing those cancers that wouldnt cause any harm . Many men have side effects from treatment and the risks of routine PSA screening outweigh the benefits.
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What We Offer You For Prostate Cancer Screening
- In-depth education by your provider to make sure you understand all the important factors related to prostate cancer screening. Go to About Prostate Cancer Screening
- Evidence-based screening for prostate cancer based on recommendations from the American Cancer Society. Go to Techniques
- Patient-centered care that considers your needs and preferences when making important health care decisions. Go to Benefits and Risks
- Convenient access to care at primary care and urology clinics located throughout the Bay area. Go to Our Clinics
Different Factors Increase Or Decrease The Risk Of Developing Prostate Cancer
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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.