In screening for prostate cancer, the goal is to find cancers before they begin to spread. With African men getting more aggressive disease than their Caucasian counterparts, it is important that a prostate cancer diagnosis be made as early as possible to improve prostate outcomes.
Generally, the guidelines suggest men begin screening for prostate cancer after 50 years however, some medical proponents recommend that African men begin discussing prostate cancer screening with their doctors after they turn 40.
Your doctor may ask you questions on certain urinary and sexual problems you might have and how long you’ve had them. If he suspects you have prostate cancer, your doctor will usually perform a physical examination and/or blood test to check the health of your prostate.
PSA Testing is a blood test used to check levels of the prostate specific antigen (PSA), a substance produced by the prostate gland, in the blood. Blood is drawn from your veins during this procedure to measure PSA levels. A normal PSA level is 4 ng/ml and usually men without prostate cancer have PSA levels lower than 4. PSA levels above 4ng/ml can suggest prostate cancer.
A Digital Rectal Exam is when the doctor inserts a gloved finger into your rectum to check abnormalities in the prostate. If there are changes in the shape, size or feel of your prostate, the doctor may suggest more tests to find or diagnose prostate cancer.
Biopsy: Using a small ultrasound probe inserted into your rectum, a picture of your prostate is created on a screen. This guides your doctor to insert a thin needle into the prostate to collect prostate cells which will then be viewed under the microscope to check for cancer cells.
After the presence of cancer cells have been determined by the pathologist imaging tests such as – magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computerized tomography (CT) scan, Bone scan and positron emission tomography (PET) scan – are used to determine the exact location of the tumour and the extent of spread (stage).