A major part of our society today is the prevalence of cancer and its life-changing impact on the people that it affects. Because of that, it’s important to be aware of any types of cancer that could potentially affect you. For men, prostate cancer is a real danger, so it helps to talk to a medical professional about the possibility of getting a prostate cancer prognosis through some kind of screening. While not everyone ultimately chooses to get a screening, it’s at least a conversation that you and your doctor should have at some point to help you make the most informed decision possible. Before you do that, here are some factors to consider.
Types of Screenings
There are two major types of screenings used to get a prostate cancer prognosis: the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test and the digital rectal exam (DRE). If you choose the blood test, your doctor will be looking at the amount of PSA in your blood. It doesn’t tell you for sure whether or not you have cancer, but a lower PSA level means you are less likely to have it. Most healthy men have less than 4 nanograms per milliliter. If a doctor performs a DRE, he does a physical exam, feeling in the rectum with a lubricated glove, checking for bumps or hard areas that require further tests.
When to Get Screened
The average man should start thinking about getting screened when he’s about 50 years old. If you are at a higher risk, you should think about it at age 45. People at higher risk include African Americans and men who have had an immediate relative diagnosed at a young age. Not all prostate cancer causes are known, but there does seem to be a genetic factor. If you’ve had more than one immediate relative diagnosed, then you should start thinking about it at age 40.
Screenings do not always give you a completely accurate prostate cancer prognosis. That means that it’s possible to miss signs of cancer that are there or to get false positives. While it is helpful to catch cancer early, you wouldn’t want to start cancer treatment unless you were sure you actually had it, since treatments have a number of side effects. When you talk to your doctor about potential screenings, you may want to discuss your potential quality of life and what is involved in cancer treatments.