Prostate Cancer Screenings
Early detection of prostate cancer—even before an individual shows any symptoms—allows for earlier treatment and easier cure of the disease. Diagnosis of prostate cancer is done using simple procedures that allow your condition to be rated and assessed by a pathologist and your physician.
Early detection tests look for warning signs of cancer. One way is to conduct blood tests of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels. A digital rectal exam (DRE) can also reveal signs of prostate cancer. In this test, the doctor inserts a gloved finger in the rectum to feel for bumps or hard areas on the prostate. Whether or not screening for prostate cancer saves lives is currently the subject of several large studies. Most forms of prostate cancer can be slow growing and may never show symptoms.
The American Urological Association recommends that men ages to 69 should consult with his doctor to decide if and when it is time to have testing or exams performed.
Signs associated with prostate cancer include the following symptoms, which can also be associated with other conditions.
- Difficulty urinating because of a slow or weak stream of urine.
- Feeling the need to urinate more often, especially at night.
- Blood in the urine.
- Loss of bladder or bowel control.
- Trouble getting an erection.
- Pain in the hips, back or chest.
- Weakness or numbness in the legs or feet.
Two methods are commonly used to diagnose prostate cancer:
Transrectal ultrasound (TRUS): This procedure uses a small rectal probe to create black and white images of the prostate. Taking less than 10 minutes, the test is usually not painful. The area can be numbed and the patient typically only feels some initial pressure. TRUS can also indicate the size of the prostate and help determine the best treatment options.
Prostate biopsy: A core needle biopsy is a procedure that removes a sample of body tissue for study under a microscope. This is the main method used to diagnose prostate cancer and typically causes only brief discomfort. Guided by TRUS, the urologist can numb the area before taking 8-18 samples.
Results for biopsies take from 1-3 days or sometimes longer. A pathologist will examine the samples and assign a grade from 2-10, with higher numbers indicating a greater chance of cancer growing and spreading quickly. Results can also be labeled suspicious when cells don’t look normal, but also don’t look like cancer.
There are many variables in the process of screening for, diagnosing, and treating prostate cancer. It is important to review your options and to discuss your personal preferences and risk factors with your doctor. For more information about this topic, contact the staff at Jefferson Surgical Clinic.