Prostate cancer is more common than you think. It is estimated that nearly one in seven American men are diagnosed with the disease. That’s why it’s good practice for men over 50 to get routine prostate cancer diagnostic tests or screenings.
Prostate cancer affects the prostate, a golf ball-sized gland located underneath the bladder and in front of the rectum. To diagnose prostate cancer, your doctor will start by reviewing your symptoms and medical history. Age, race, family history, and lifestyle are common risk factors. Based on the information collected, your doctor will recommend a prostate cancer screening.
Different Prostate Cancer Diagnostic Tests
Since prostate cancer has overlapping symptoms with other diseases, your doctor will conduct a series of tests to rule out other causes and make an accurate diagnosis. Here are the most common prostate cancer diagnostic tests.
Digital Rectal Exam
A digital rectal exam involves your doctor manually checking your prostate gland through a rectal exam. They will check the gland to check for any lumps or unusual growths.
Prostate cancer can result in physical changes to the prostate gland. However, this symptom is shared by other prostate conditions, like benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostatitis. If your doctor detects any issues during the digital rectal exam, they may order additional prostate cancer testing.
PSA Blood Test
The protein produced by the prostate gland is called prostate-specific antigen (PSA). If you have prostate cancer, your prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels may be elevated.
During a PSA blood test, your doctor will draw your blood and send it to a laboratory for analysis. The results will be processed within a few days. Keep in mind that high PSA levels do not automatically indicate cancer.
Your doctor will check your PSA levels during your regular checkup. If the levels suddenly increase, you may be asked to go through additional prostate cancer diagnostic tests.
In addition to being used as an initial screening tool, a PSA blood test can evaluate an existing cancer diagnosis. The results can indicate if cancer treatment is effective.
If there are abnormal results in your PSA testing or digital rectal exam, your doctor may request a prostate ultrasound.
During the ultrasound, the urologist will insert a thin ultrasound probe into the rectum. The sound waves emitted by the instrument bounce off the prostate, allowing the machine to generate an image of it. A prostate ultrasound is usually performed with a biopsy.
A prostate biopsy can confirm the presence of cancer. Doctors typically use a small needle inserted through the ultrasound probe to take small amounts of prostate tissue. These samples are sent to a lab and examined for cancer cells.
There are different ways to perform a biopsy. One innovative method uses advanced diagnostic technology. During an MRI fusion-guided biopsy, your doctor uses 3D ultrasound and 3D MRI to identify tumors and perform a targeted biopsy.
Other Diagnostic Imaging Tests
If the results suggest cancer, your doctor may order additional cancer diagnostic tests to determine the extent of the disease. This allows them to craft the most appropriate treatment plan based on the extent of your condition.
Some other diagnostic imaging tests are:
● Chest x-ray that determines whether cancer cells have spread to the lungs
● Bone scan to check if the disease has made it into bones
● ProstaScint to check if the cancer has metastasized to the lymph nodes and other areas of the body
Men’s Health Specialist In Phoenix, AZ
If you’re 50 years old or older, it’s generally recommended that you go through a digital rectal exam and PSA blood testing once a year. However, if you have a history of prostate disease, it’s best to start annual screenings between the ages of 40-45. Early detection of prostate cancer significantly improve clinical outcomes and survival rates.
If you would like to get your prostate checked, visit Ironwood Urology. Dr. Desi Avila is an experienced urologist specializing in men’s health issues. Dr. Avila can perform several prostate cancer diagnostic tests, including MRI fusion-guided prostate biopsy. Above all, he ensures that the process is as painless and comfortable as possible for patients.
Call us at (480) 961-2323 or fill out our online appointment request form to schedule your prostate exam. We look forward to being your partner in health!