How early is too early to begin prostate cancer screenings? Although early detection can save your life and make a huge difference in cancer treatment and successful recovery, there is some controversy around early screenings that many doctors and medical organizations disagree on.
Screening for prostate cancer can not only be uncomfortable, both physically and emotionally, but it is deemed unnecessary for men that show no signs of prostate cancer and are not within the most affected age range. That, unfortunately, doesn’t mean that these people are immune from developing prostate cancer, making it difficult to set standards for proper screening.
Prostate screening exams usually consist of a DRE, or a digital rectum exam. In this exam, your doctor might insert gloved fingers into your rectum in order to get the best sense of your prostate’s health. During the exam he might feel for possible lumps, size of your prostate gland and firmness to identify possible signs of cancer.
Another exam that is seemingly less invasive, but time-consuming and unnecessary if you are not in the typically-affected demographic, is a blood test. After taking a sample of your blood, a lab will test the sample for PSA, or prostate-specific antigen. This is usually present in the blood in trace amounts, but experts are specifically looking for large amounts that could indicate cancer or infection of some kind.
Should doctors feel that testing detects abnormal cells or shows signs of cancer, further screening might be required. This can consist of MRIs, ultrasounds, or ordering a biopsy of the area for cancerous cells.
While still controversial within the medical community to require these tests on men that are not yet in their 50s, and show no signs of being a risk for prostate cancer, it’s ultimately up to the patient. If you come from a family where cancer, especially prostate cancer, is common, then there is a possibility that regular screenings could save your life. Talk to your urologist today to decide if early prostate cancer screenings are for you, or if you are able to hold off for a couple more years.
At Ironwood Urology, we’re here to help. If you have a family history of cancer, are over the age of 50 or would like to start screening your prostate gland for cancer early, we can help. Our medical experts specialize in everything from prostate health to reproductive concerns. To book your appointment, call Dr. Desi Avila at (480) 961-2323, or request one online.