Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Test
The PSA test is a routine blood screening that can be performed in a lab, hospital, or your doctor’s office. No preparation is necessary, except you may be asked to avoid ejaculation for 48 hours prior. The PSA test can detect high levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a protein produced by the prostate. Elevated levels of PSA are often-but not always-an early indicator of prostate cancer, as well as other disorders of the prostate. (Likewise, normal levels don’t necessarily mean there is no cancer.)
What Is the Prostate Cancer Screening Process?
Regular testing for prostate cancer has been proven to aid in early detection. And the earlier prostate cancer is detected, the better chances for successful treatment and long-term survival.
Testing for prostate cancer involves a simple blood test and physical exam. All in all, it takes only about 10 minutes-a small commitment that could potentially save your life.
Typically, your primary care physician (PCP) does a prostate screening as a routine part of your yearly physical. (If a screening is not included, we advise requesting one starting at age 40.) Your PCP or urologist will also perform a screening if you are exhibiting any symptoms of prostate cancer.
Digital Rectal Exam (DRE)
The physician will place a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum and feel the prostate through the rectal wall. This allows the physician to feel the prostate for lumps, nodules, and other abnormalities.
While the DRE may be effective at early detection of colon or rectal cancers, or at catching later-stage prostate cancers, it isn’t a reliable method for finding early-stage prostate cancer. The PSA blood test should also be used.
What Happens After My Screening?
If your physician believes that the results of your digital rectal exam or PSA test are cause for concern, you will be referred to a urologist for further testing, including a prostate biopsy.