Prostate Health Important?
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men. About 180,000 new
cases will be diagnosed this year. Prostate cancer can also be deadly.
About 40,000 men will die of the disease this year. Prostate cancer
accounts for 30% of all make cancers and 13% of all male cancer-related
deaths. The rate of prostate cancer is at least one-third higher among
African American men than among men in other ethnic or racial groups.
The American Cancer Society recognizes there are points of confusion
regarding prostate cancer screening. Therefore, it is important that
you discuss the subject with your health care provider. Using a variety
of tests, doctors may often find prostate cancer when the disease is
still at an early stage, even before men have symptoms of the disease.
This is important because when the disease is found early there may
be more effective treatment options to choose from. The number of deaths
from prostate cancer has gone down, suggesting that this is a result
of screening, but this has not been proven.
Most importantly, the decision to be screened for prostate cancer
should be based on your individual medical condition and health care
needs. Men who choose to undergo screening should begin at age 50.
However, men in high-risk groups, such as African Americans or those
with brothers or fathers who have had prostate cancer, may choose to
begin screening at a younger age. More research needs to be done to
decide at what age men in these high-risk groups should begin having
The PSA Blood Test
The PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) blood test is a very important
tool for detecting prostate cancer. During the test, blood is drawn
and measured for a substance called PSA, which is produced by prostate
gland cells. A PSA level of 4.0 ng/ml or less is usually considered
normal.* However, if the amount of PSA in your blood is higher than
normal, it does not necessarily mean that you have prostate cancer.
Several less serious conditions can also cause PSA levels to rise above
4.0. Just to be sure, your doctor may recommend that you have a second
PSA test at a later time to see if your PSA level remains high, or
order additional tests, such as a free (unbound) PSA blood test, transrectal
ultrasound, or a biopsy to find out if cancer is present.
The Digital Rectal Exam (DRE)
The DRE (digital rectal exam) allows a physician to feel if a tumor
is present in the rectum. For men, this exam can help detect prostate
At Age 50:
- Talk with your health care provider about beginning annual prostate-specific
antigen (PSA) blood testing and digital rectal exams (DRE) of the
prostate gland. Factors to consider include your overall health and
- Men who are in high-risk groups, such as African Americans, or
men who have a history of prostate cancer in close family members,
should talk with their health care providers about beginning screenings
at a younger age.
*Up to 20% of men with prostate cancer will have a normal PSA level.
American Cancer Society - Guidelines for the Early Detection of Prostate