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Prostate Cancer Screening: When and How Often?

By    |   Friday, 26 Feb 2016 06:17 PM

Prostate cancer screenings can often detect early signs of cancer development in men.

When to start prostate cancer screening depends on an individual's age and risk factors, and how often to have it done depends on previous screening results, says the American Cancer Society. Men should speak with their physicians before being screened for the disease because it may not be best for all individuals.

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Typically, men should start being tested for prostate cancer when they turn 50 years old and have an average risk of developing the disease, according to the ACS.

Those who have a higher risk of developing the cancer should start testing at age 45, ACS states. These include African-American men and those who have a father, brother, or son that was diagnosed with prostate cancer before the age of 65. Some men should begin screenings at age 40 if they have more than one relative who developed the cancer at an early age.

A prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, blood test screens the body for appearance of prostate cancer. Cancerous prostate tissue produces more PSA proteins, the Mayo Clinic notes. The results from this screening impact how often men should be tested.

If the original screening’s results are negative for the disease, men who have a PSA of less than 2.5ng/mL should be retested once every other year, according to the ACS. Those who have a PSA higher than that should have a screening every year.

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A digital rectal exam also can reassure check for signs of prostate cancer in the body.

Detecting signs of prostate cancer can be helpful for treatment as it is more effective when working on less-advanced cases of the disease, the Mayo Clinic reports. It’s not without its risks, however. The blood tests are not fool-proof and elevated PSA levels do not always mean the patient has cancer.

Additionally, some argue since prostate cancer spreads slowly that the risks and side effects of treating prostate cancer — urinary incontinence, erectile dysfunction, and bowel dysfunction — are not worth the cost, the Prostate Cancer Foundation reports.

Men should speak with their doctors about their prostate cancer risk and determine when and how often prostate cancer screening is needed.

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Prostate cancer screenings can often detect early signs of cancer development in men. When to start prostate cancer screening depends on an individual's age and risk factors, and how often to have it done depends on previous screening results, says the American Cancer Society.
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