When it comes to men’s health, prostate cancer screening is often overlooked for more highly-publicized conditions like high blood pressure or cholesterol screenings. Unfortunately, prostate cancer is the second most fatal cancer among men, after lung cancer.
The two screening tools for prostate cancer are the PSA test that determines the amount of prostate-specific antigen in the blood, and the digital rectal exam (DRE), in which the physician feels the prostate gland for possible abnormalities. If either of these screenings indicate a potential problem, physicians will recommend a biopsy. If the biopsy and subsequent tests detect a tumor, a physician can help you develop a treatment plan, which may include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy or hormone therapy, or a combination of these treatments.
Screening is absolutely integral to discovering, treating, and beating prostate cancer. In fact, most prostate cancers that are discovered early have a 99% survival rate after 5 years. Catching the disease early also allows physicians to offer a patient more treatment options.
If a man is unsure about when or how to begin prostate cancer screening, he should talk with his primary care physician about his risk. Recommendations state that men of average risk should start around age 50, but those with high risk factors, such as being African American or having a direct relative with a history of prostate cancer, should begin talking with their doctor at age 40. Genetic testing may help uncover increased risk factors.
Every man has some risk of developing prostate cancer. However, there are a few lifestyle changes that may help lower your risk of getting the disease. Research indicates that a healthy diet (rich in fruits, vegetables and fish), regular exercise, and not smoking may lower prostate cancer risk.