Cancer begins in your body when normal cells start to grow out of control. In prostate cancer, the prostate cells grow out of control. They can spread and affect nearby organs. They can also spread to distant parts of the body and cause problems. How common is prostate cancer? Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men (after skin cancer). The chance of having prostate cancer increases with age. Are all prostate cancers the same? No, they are not. Many prostate cancers grow slowly. These are not likely to cause any harm. Some prostate cancers grow fast. They spread to other parts of the body where they cause problems and can even cause death.
We don’t know what causes this cancer. We do know that certain things cause some men to have a higher chance of having prostate cancer than others. Some of these are age, family history, and race. We call these risk factors because they increase your risk of having prostate cancer.
If you’re in pain when you pass urine, see blood in your urine, or have trouble passing urine, you should speak to your doctor at the earliest. These could be symptoms of other prostate problems, but can also be caused by prostate cancer. The only way to figure out the real issue is by visiting your doctor.
Based on the way prostate cancer testing is done today, about 14 out of 100 of men (14%) will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their life. About 3 out of 100 men (3%) will someday die of prostate cancer.
A PSA blood test and rectal exam will give your doctor a better idea about the health of your prostate. Your doctor might do a PSA blood test alone, or he might do both tests.
What is a PSA test? This test measures how much PSA is in your blood. PSA stands for prostate-specific antigen, a protein made by the prostate gland.
During this test, your doctor puts a gloved, lubricated finger into your rectum to feel your prostate gland. A rectal exam can tell if the prostate size, shape, and texture are normal.
No. There is no perfect test to look for prostate cancer.
PSA levels can be high in prostate cancer, but they can also be high with prostate infections and other prostate problems. So, having a high PSA level does NOT always mean that you have prostate cancer.
No. If your PSA level is low, you can still have prostate cancer. If your rectal exam does not suggest cancer, you can still have prostate cancer. The rectal exam is not as good as the PSA test for finding prostate cancer, but it might find cancers in some men with low PSA levels.
If your PSA level or your rectal exam suggests cancer, you may need a biopsy to know for sure if you have prostate cancer.
|Questions||If I get tested||If I do not get tested|
|What will happen?||You go to your doctor and get a PSA test and maybe a rectal exam||You have regular check-ups but no prostate cancer testing.|
|If your test results are cause for concern, you may have a biopsy.||At any time, you can change your mind and be tested.|
|Possible benefits to you||Testing may find an early prostate cancer – while it’s small and before it has spread.||You avoid the worry that you might have from getting test results|
|If it’s found early, there may be a better chance of being treated and not dying from prostate cancer.||You avoid being treated for a cancer that might never cause you any problems.|
|Getting tested may give you peace of mind||You avoid the side effects that may occur with treatment. These include problems passing urine, problems with your bowels, and/or problems having sex.|
|Risks to you||Testing may lead to worry about the results.||You may be worried that you have prostate cancer and have not been tested.|
|Testing may lead to more tests, such as a biopsy, even if you don’t have cancer||You may have an early prostate cancer, and you won’t know this.|
|Testing may find a cancer that might never have caused problems or caused death.||You may have a prostate cancer that may later cause symptoms or death and not have the chance to find it early.|
|Testing may lead to treatment, and treatment can cause side effects. These include problems controlling your urine, problems with your bowels, and/or problems having sex.|
|Testing may not find anything even though cancer is there.|
Starting at age 50, talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of testing. Then decide if testing is the right choice for you.
13 If you are African American or have a father or brother who had prostate cancer before age 65, have this talk with your doctor starting at age 45.
This talk should take place at age 40 for men with 2 or more close relatives who had prostate cancer before age 65.
If you decide to be tested, you should have the PSA blood test with or without a rectal exam. How often you’re tested will depend on your PSA level.