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Prostate Exam

Prostate Cancer Screenings

The American Cancer Society reports that prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in men. One out of six men are at risk of developing prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer ranks second as the leading cause of cancer deaths in the male population, with lung cancer ranking number one. Most prostate cancers can be cured in nearly 100% of cases, if it is caught early. However, symptoms may not be noticeable in the early stages when the cancer is the most responsive to treatments. That is why it is important to have regular prostate screens.

The two most common tests that can detect problems in the prostate include the digital rectal exam (DRE) and the prostate-specific antigen test (PSA).

It is recommended that men schedule an annual digital rectal exam starting at the age of 50. Men who have a history of prostate, or other cancers, in their families should get on the offense and have a digital rectal exam starting at the age of 40. While the digital rectal exam is a simple and fairly quick examination, many men put off the test because they feel embarrassed or uncomfortable with the process. However, upon education they soon realize that monitoring the health of their prostate is an important preventive health practice that could save their lives.

The prostate-specific antigen test is a simple test. It is a test that reads the amount of PSA that is circulating in a male’s blood. PSA is made by the prostate, and it is what aids in liquefying semen. It is important to understand that as men age, they may have an increase of PSA in their bloodstream. To properly screen a patient, physicians use a scale which is based upon the patients age to see if the results fall within healthy levels. Besides age, elevated levels of PSA may also be present if the male has any inflammation, or an infection.

You should keep in mind that neither test will tell a physician if prostate cancer is present. However, they both can detect changes and help determine if further testing is needed. If you are unsure if you should have an annual prostate screening, talk with your physician. Opinions do vary, and your individual health and family history will play a role in determining if you should undergo annual screenings.

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