Prostate cancer can often be found early by testing the amount of prostate-specific antigen in your blood. Another way prostate cancer is found early is when the doctor performs a rectal exam. Because your prostate gland is just in front of your rectum, the doctor can feel if there is any abnormal hardness in your prostate. These often indicate that there is a cancer. If you have had yearly exam your cancer will probably been found at an early stage.
Since the use of early detection tests for prostate cancer became relatively common, the death rate has dropped. However, it has not been proven that this is a direct result of screening. Studies are underway to try to prove that early detection tests for prostate cancer will lower the death rate. Until that information is available, whether or not you have the test is something for you to decide. Things to consider are your age and health.
If you are young and develop prostate cancer, it will probably shorten your life if it is not caught early. If you are older or in poor health, then prostate cancer may never become a major problem because it is generally a slow-growing cancer.
The American Cancer Society believes that health care professionals should offer the prostate-specific antigen blood test and digital rectal exams yearly, starting at age 50. Men at high risk, such as African Americans and men who have a family member that has been diagnosed with prostate cancer at an early age, should begin testing at age 45.
Health care professionals should give men the opportunity to openly discuss the benefits and risks of testing at annual checkups.
The American Cancer Society, the American Urological Association, and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network believe that prostate cancer testing can save...