There are few things men look forward to less than a prostate screen exam. Screening is looking for cancer (elevated psa) before a person has any symptoms. When abnormal cells or cancer is found early, it may be easier to treat. By the time symptoms appear, cancer may have begun to spread. Scientists are trying to better understand which people are more likely to get certain types of cancer by studying things we do and things around us to see if they cause cancer.
It is important to remember that your doctor does not necessarily think you have cancer if he or she suggests a screening test. Screening tests are given when you have no cancer symptoms. If a screening test result is abnormal, you may need to have more tests done to find out if you have cancer.
According to the National Cancer Institute, when to start screening is generally based on individual risk, with age 40 being a reasonable time to start screening for those at highest risk:
- genetic predispositions
- family histories of prostate cancer
- African American men
Guidelines differ for men at average risk. Some recommend an initial screening at age 40, and others recommend starting at age 50.
The question of screening is a personal and complex one. It’s important for each man to talk with his doctor about whether prostate cancer screening is right for him.
Urology Austin physicians specialize in innovative treatment for men and women. Contact us for a consultation with one of our urology dream team.