Considering that cancer is a leading cause of death among men — and that women are 100 percent more likely than men to visit their doctor for a preventive exam — men need to be educated about the importance of regular cancer screenings.
In particular, it is important that men are screened for prostate cancer, which is the most common type of non-skin cancer among men, as reported by the CDC. Below are some frequently asked questions men may have about prostate cancer.
What are common signs and symptoms of prostate cancer?
In its early stage, prostate cancer often has no signs, although common symptoms with advanced prostate cancer do appear. These include:
- Weak or interrupted flow of urine
- Sudden urge to urinate
- Frequent urination (especially at night)
- Trouble starting the flow of urine
- Trouble emptying the bladder completely
- Pain or burning while urinating
- Blood in the urine or semen
- A pain in the back, hips or pelvis that doesn't go away
- Shortness of breath, feeling very tired, fast heartbeat, dizziness or pale skin caused by anemia
How are men screened for prostate cancer?
While there are no standard or routine screening tests for prostate cancer, various types of prostate cancer screenings are currently being studied, including:
- Digital rectal exam (DRE) — an internal physical examination of the prostate performed by inserting a lubricated glove finger into the rectum.
- Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) — a blood test measuring the level of PSA. A higher level may indicate prostate cancer, an infection or inflammation of the prostate or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
- Prostate cancer gene 3 (PCA3) — a test measuring the amount of PCA3 present in the urine; the higher the level, the more likely that prostate cancer is present.
- TMPRSS2:ERG — a urine test that looks for an abnormal gene change in prostate cells, collected after a DRE, that are found in 50 percent of all localized prostate cancers, but rarely when prostate cancer is not present.
At what age should men be screened for prostate cancer?
The age at which men should discuss with their healthcare providers the need for screening tests is based on an individual's risk level for developing prostate cancer:
- Average risk — men with no prostate cancer in their immediate family.
- Discuss screening at age 50.
- High risk — African Americans or those with a first-degree relative (father, brother or son) who was diagnosed with prostate cancer before age 65.
- Discuss screening at age 45.
- Very high risk — those with more than one first-degree relative who had prostate cancer before age 65.
- Discuss screening at age 40.