Screening means getting you checked for any cancer before it manifest as a symptom or sign. The main goals of cancer screening are to:
- Reduce the number of people who die from the disease, or prevent deaths from cancer altogether
- Reduce the number of people who develop the disease
Prostate cancer screenings look for signs of the disease even before it causes symptoms. Many studies show that early detection significantly increases the chances of successful treatment.
Prostate cancer screening commonly involves two tests:
1.Digital rectal exam (DRE): A doctor inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to estimate the size, shape and consistency of the prostate.
2.Prostate specific antigen (PSA) test: It’s a tumor marker done by a blood test. PSA is a substance secreted by the prostate and as a rule, the higher the PSA level in the blood, the more likely a prostate problem is present. But a high PSA level doesn’t always mean cancer. Many non cancerous causes can also give rise to high PSA levels.
For men aged 55 to 69 years, the decision to undergo periodic prostate-specific antigen (PSA)–based screening for prostate cancer should be an individual one. Before deciding whether to be screened, men should have an opportunity to discuss the potential benefits and harms of screening with their urologist. Screening offers a small potential benefit of reducing the chance of death from prostate cancer in some men. However, many men will experience potential harms of screening, including false-positive results that require additional testing and possible prostate biopsy; over diagnosis and overtreatment; and treatment complications, such as incontinence and erectile dysfunction. In determining whether this service is appropriate in individual cases, patients and clinicians should consider the balance of benefits and harms on the basis of family history, race/ethnicity, comorbid medical conditions, patient values about the benefits and harms of screening and treatment-specific outcomes, and other health needs. Clinicians should not screen men who do not express a preference for screening.
General guidelines recommends against PSA-based screening for prostate cancer in men 70 years and older.
The entire screening process only takes a few minutes and may be mildly uncomfortable for a few seconds.
The benefits, however, are significant: When prostate cancer is caught early, the five-year survival rate is more than 99 percent. The relative 10-year survival rate is 91 percent and 76 percent at 15 years.
Together, the PSA test and DRE provide a good assessment for determining any prostate problems or irregularities – and can help catch cancer early.