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Prostate Cancer Screening Info

Who should be screened?

Prostate cancer is the most commonly occurring cancer in men. Whether or not a man should undergo screening for prostate cancer is an important decision. Because research has not yet proven that the potential benefits of testing outweigh the harms of testing and treatment, doctors at Smilow believe in a shared decision-making approach in which the decision to screen should be made between a man and his health care provider. This decision should be made after an informed discussion of the risks and benefits of prostate cancer screening, taking into consideration a man’s age, race/ethnicity, health status, and family history of prostate cancer. Because some men may be at higher than average risk, it is important that you discuss your risk status with your doctor.

 Men at average risk:

  • Men in their 40s. Doctors at Smilow feel that all men regardless of their known risk factors should have an opportunity to have a baseline PSA as this may help inform the discussion and decision about future screening.
  • At age 55. Men who are at average risk of prostate cancer should talk to their doctors about routine screening for prostate cancer. Doctors at Smilow agree with some professional organizations that biennial (every 2 years) screening may be adequate in this age group, as long as an initial age-adjusted PSA test was normal.
  • Over the age of 69. Doctors at Smilow recommend an individualized approach to screening that takes into consideration the man’s general health and life expectancy. It should be noted that some professional organizations do not support screening men in this age group.

Men at greater than average risk:

At age 40, men who are at increased risk of prostate cancer should talk to their health care provider about prostate cancer screening.

This includes:

  • African American/Black men (men of African Ancestry)
  • Men with a family history of prostate cancer in a first-degree relative (father, brother, or son) diagnosed before age 65.

What tests are available through the Smilow Screening and Prevention Program?

If you decide to be tested, doctors at Smilow recommend both a PSA blood test and a rectal exam. How often you’re tested will depend on your PSA level.

  • PSA. PSA or Prostate-Specific Antigen can be measured with a blood test. Although there are different reasons that the PSA level may increase, it can be associated with prostate cancer.
  • DRE. Digital Rectal Exam is a test that is performed by your health care provider to evaluate the prostate; this test can help identify problems with the prostate gland.