There are a number of different prostate cancer screening methods and finding it early will help you best treat it. All men need to get regular checkups. However, if you're at risk given your age, race, and family history, you need to talk to your doctor about starting screening earlier.
The American Urological Association recommends that men get an annual digital rectal exam starting at age 40. Digital in this case means using the fingers of the hand. In order to do this, your doctor will use his or her finger to feel your prostate through the rectal wall.
A second test, the PSA level, should be done starting every year at age 50. This test measures the amount of the prostate specific antigen or PSA in the blood.
Depending on the results of these two tests, your doctor may recommend a prostate biopsy. If any cancer cells are detected, the biopsy will determine what's called a Gleason score, which will tell your doctor how aggressive or fast moving your cancer is.
Prostate Cancer Screening. Linthicum, MD: The American Urological Association Foundation, 2009. (Accessed July 7, 2010 at http://www.auanet.org/content/guidelines-and-quality-care/clinical-guidelines/patient-guides/psa.pdf.)
What You Need to Know About Prostate Cancer. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute, 2008. (Accessed July 7, 2010, at http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/wyntk/prostate.)
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