What is a Prostate gland?
The prostate is a gland which is part of the male reproductive system. Its job is to produce fluid that is part of the semen. When cells in the prostate begin to grow out of control, cancer develops. The risk for developing prostate cancer increases as men age. To screen for prostate cancer, a blood test called a PSA (prostate specific antigen), and a digital rectal examination may be done.
Who should be screened?
According to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), the group who provides guidelines for health screening services in the U.S., suggest the following for prostate cancer screening:
● Men aged 55-69 years old should make an individual decision about getting PSA screening. They should have this conversation with their healthcare team about the risks and benefits of screening
● Men over the age of 70 should not be routinely screened
The potential risks of screening include getting a false-positive result, which would then lead to unnecessary tests such as imaging studies and biopsies. For some men, screening will find prostate cancer that would otherwise not have caused them any significant health problems. This could then lead to treatment of their cancer that puts them at risk of developing side effects.
The American Cancer Society suggests a variation to the USPSTF guidelines above. They suggest that the discussion of screening should be held at the following times:
● Age 40 for those at highest risk, meaning men with more than one first-degree relative with prostate cancer diagnosed at an early age (younger than age 65)
● Age 45 for men at high risk, those who are African American men, and those with a first degree relative who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer younger than age 65
● Age 50 for men at average risk and who are expected to live at least 10 more
In conclusion, prostate cancer is a serious disease that affects many men. However, there are ways to reduce your risk of developing prostate cancer, including getting screened regularly. You should talk to your doctor about whether or not you should be getting screened for prostate cancer based on your personal risk factors.