Prostate Screening Risks and Benefits
For the general population of men, there is a one in six chance of being diagnosed with prostate cancer, so it’s important to be aware of your options.
A simple blood test called a prostate specific antigen test (PSA) and a digital rectal exam (DRE) are currently the best screening methods available for prostate cancer. Prostate cancer screening is safe and painless and can detect prostate cancer early, when it is most treatable.
However, prostate cancer screening is not for everyone. You should know:
- Some prostate cancers are slow-growing and there is a chance that slow-growing disease may never affect a man’s health
- Prostate cancer screening detects the presence of cancer; it will not show if a cancer is slow-growing or aggressive. Only a qualified physician can make that determination
- Treatment can be life-saving. However, it may cause temporary or long-lasting side effects, such as incontinence or erectile dysfunction
- If a screening shows you have prostate cancer, it’s important to talk with a prostate cancer specialist who can help you evaluate your options and make the choice that’s right for you.
Before you decide to be screened, talk with your doctor about whether and when prostate cancer screening is right for you.
Prostate Cancer Screening GuidelinesSource: American Urological Association, May 3, 2013
All men considering prostate cancer screening should first talk with their personal physicians about the risks and benefits, and whether screening is right for them.
Men who are at higher risk include:
- All men ages 55-69
- African-American men ages 40-69
- Men ages 40-69 who have risk factors such as a family history (father or brother who has had prostate cancer)
Screening is not recommended for:
- Men younger than age 55 (average risk, no symptoms)
- Healthy men age 70 and older; however, these men may have a discussion about screening risks and benefits with their doctors.
Author: Tamara Kroll
Last Review Date: June 10, 2013
Online Editor(s): Kathryn Adam