Early detection is the key to curing prostate cancer. Men should have a yearly prostate cancer screening, including a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test and digital rectal exam (DRE). Since the risk of developing prostate cancer before age 50 is low, many experts recommend the average man begin annual prostate cancer screenings at age 50. African-American men and men with a family history of the disease should begin testing at age 40. View an infographic on The Importance of Prostate Cancer Screening.
A PSA blood test and digital rectal exam (DRE) are the two standard screening tests for prostate cancer. PSA is an enzyme produced by the prostate. It is normal to have small amounts of this enzyme in the bloodstream, so an elevated PSA alone does not necessarily indicate cancer. It may indicate non-cancerous conditions such as prostate inflammation, infection, or trauma. Often the DRE does not reveal any abnormalities that the doctor can feel. For this reason, the PSA blood test together with the DRE is important for early detection.
A doctor will evaluate these prostate cancer screening tests and may recommend a biopsy. The vast majority of physicians use an ultrasound guided technique to remove several small pieces of prostate tissue for microscopic examination. This is usually an office procedure performed under local anesthesia.