Regular prostate exams can detect possible problems early so they can be treated successfully when they do occur.
"Prostate cancer most common cancer in men, accounting for over 28,000 deaths yearly," Hershey Medical Center professor Jay Raman told Penn State News
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The American Cancer Society recommends
that men of average risk for prostate cancer get regular prostate exams and screenings after age 50, with men of higher risk beginning exams and screenings at age 40 or 45.
While tests that screen for PSA (prostate specific antigen) catch some problems, a physical prostate exam is still the best way to detect abnormalities that may signal prostate cancer.
If the doctor feels any lumps or hard areas during the prostate exam, he may schedule the patient for a biopsy, which removes some of the prostate tissue with a needle so that it can be tested for the presence of cancer.
A PSA test may show an elevated level of PSA that could indicate cancer, but the test is not always conclusive. WebMD reports that some men
with normal PSA levels have prostate cancer, while having even a very high PSA level may only increase the risk of cancer 67 percent.
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Doctors may also perform a transrectal ultrasound to get a visual picture of the prostate, or to help determine where to take the biopsy from. A transrectal ultrasound alone cannot definitively diagnose prostate cancer because it cannot always distinguish between normal tissue and cancer, according to the National Cancer Society
If a cancer diagnosis does result from the biopsy, treatment options include surgery to remove some or all of the prostate, radiation therapy, and cryotherapy, which uses liquid nitrogen to freeze tumors.
Some prostate cancers are very slow-growing and may never become fatal, so it is possible that watchful waiting could be a treatment option as well as hormone therapy, which can be used alone or with other treatments, according to the Prostate Cancer Foundation
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