A prostate cancer screening can be a useful tool to diagnose cancer in an early form which makes treatment much easier. A Digital Rectal Exam and a Prostrate Specific Antigen Test are two ways to screen for this type of cancer. Here is a closer look at prostate cancer and the pros and cons of testing for it.
Defining Prostate Cancer
This form of cancer affects the small gland that is found in males just under the bladder and above the rectum. When cancer forms it tends to grow slowly in this area so it is not as life threatening as other forms. However when detected early it can be effectively treated in a simple manner.
Who Is At High Risk For Prostate Cancer?
- Poor Diet: Men who consume foods that are high in fat and eat little vegetables in meals are more likely to develop this cancer. Overweight men are also have an increased risk as well.
- Family History: Prostate cancer often runs in the family. This means that when a father or brother is effected other close relatives are likely to suffer as well.
- Ethnicity: African American males are known to develop this kind of cancer at higher levels than Hispanic or White males.
- Age: As a man gets older he is more likely to develop this form of cancer.
Different Tests To Screen For Prostate Cancer
There is a blood test and a physical examination which can test for this cancer.
- PSA Test: The Prostate Specific Antigen Test is a sample of blood that looks at the level of PSA in the body. PSA is a protein that is created by the prostate gland. Elevated levels may signify cancer but does not always guarantee that cancer is present. Raised levels of PSA may be due to an enlarged prostate infection trauma or recent sexual activity. If the test comes back positive further tests will be performed. When cancer is heavily suspected a doctor will take a biopsy of the area.
- Rectal Exam: This test is often accompanied by a PSA Test. A medical professional will insert the finger into the rectum to observe the prostate. The size can be noted as well as any lumps that are present.
Benefits Of Getting Screened
There are many pros that are associated with preventative screening:
- Early Detection: The sooner a person is diagnosed the earlier the cancer can be effectively treated.
- Simple: Since a mere blood test is all that is involved with this screening it is an easy test to perform.
- Reassurance: Getting a definite answer regarding the presence of cancer can provide relief.
- Lower Death Rate: The prostate cancer death rates have gone down since tests have been performed.
Arguments Against Screening
- Slow Growth: Prostate cancer grows at a slow rate and rarely spreads to other body parts.
- Treatments may Have Negative Side Effects: Treatments for this cancer may cause worse symptoms than the cancer itself. Many men experience bowel problems erectile dysfunction or incontinence after certain treatments.
- Inaccurate Results: Not all tests that show high levels of PSA are a true indication of cancer. Many tests show false positives.
- Complicate Life: Even though this cancer is one of the least dangerous forms and is slow to grow many men begin to panic and complicate life with high levels of anxiety.
It is always best to diagnose cancer early to begin effective treatment. Prostate cancer is a slow growing cancer that affects men. Even though there are pros and cons of getting a prostate cancer screening it is important to maintain clear communication with a doctor at all times.