Prostate cancer, one of the most common forms of cancer among men, is a serious health concern that requires proactive management. Many men are understandably nervous when they go in for their first prostate cancer screening. Luckily, a prostate cancer screening is different from a colonoscopy and is comparatively less invasive.
Although you likely aren’t looking forward to your screening, remember that early detection significantly increases the chances of successful treatment and recovery. Knowing about issues and having a treatment plan is far better than not knowing.
Regular conversations with your healthcare provider, along with staying informed about your own health, will empower you to make the best decisions for your health.
What to Know About Prostate Cancer Screenings
Once you arrive at the healthcare facility, you’ll typically undergo a simple blood test called the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. This test measures the levels of PSA in your blood, an enzyme produced by the prostate. Elevated PSA levels could indicate the presence of cancerous cells.
You may also need to undergo a digital rectal exam (DRE). This is a quick test in which a doctor will gently insert a lubricated, gloved finger into your rectum to feel the prostate. Although this might cause discomfort, it’s a crucial step in detecting any abnormalities or irregularities in the prostate’s texture or size.
PSA are measured in “nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL).” What is considered a normal PSA varies based on a person’s age. Whether your doctor will recommend additional testing or biopsies will depend on whether the level is higher than would be expected for a man of your age. There are other conditions, genetic factors or lifestyle variables that might result in a higher PSA level, so an abnormal result might not always indicate cancer.
However, if your PSA levels are higher than normal your doctor may recommend a prostate biopsy. A urologist will use a special needle, guided by ultrasound, to take a small sample of prostate tissue, which is then sent to a lab for analysis. The needle generally goes through either the anus or the perineum and should be done under local anesthesia.
Lab analysis may take a week or two, after which you can discuss your results with your doctor. If cancer is detected, you should discuss potential treatment plans with an oncologist.
Prostate Problem Warning Signs to Watch For
Not every prostate issue is guaranteed to be cancer, so it’s important to consult with a doctor and undergo the necessary lab testing before assuming the worst. While the above tests should be performed by trained doctors, there are some warning signs men should be on the lookout for as they go about their daily lives. If you notice any of these issues, don’t hold off speaking with your doctor about prostate screening.
- Hesitancy or difficulty in urinating, needing to strain to start or maintain a stream or a weak urine flow
- Increased frequency of urination, especially at night
- Frequently feeling sudden and urgent needs to urinate
- Discovering blood in your urine or semen (this could be due to other conditions – but it always justifies a call to your doctor)
- Burning sensations when urinating (could also be due to a urinary tract infection)
- Feeling pain when ejaculating
- Erectile dysfunction
- Discomfort or pain when sitting (can be caused by an enlarged prostate)
- Persistent pain in the hips, lower back or thighs
- Unexplained fatigue or weight loss
Many of those potential symptoms are vague enough that they could have any number of potential causes. However, in aggregate they may point to a prostate condition of some kind. If you experience one or more of these symptoms, you should schedule a prostate cancer screening with your test or schedule a consultation with a urologist.
Access State-of-the-Art Prostate Cancer Treatment in Roseburg, Oregon
If you’ve received a recent prostate cancer diagnosis, the team at Community Cancer Center of Roseburg is here to help. Our experienced oncologists are dedicated to offering holistic support and cutting-edge prostate cancer treatments aimed at optimizing your potential for a complete recovery.
For more information on treatment, please reach out to us by dialing 541-673-2267 (ext. 5100) or sending us a message.