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Frequently Asked Questions

Posted By pcfadmin On March 24, 2011 @ 5:21 pm In | No Comments

What is prostate cancer? [1]
When should you get checked? [2]
How do you get checked? [3]
What is the DRE test? [4]
What is the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test? [5]
What are some of the drawbacks to the PSA test as a screening tool? [6]
What are symptoms of prostate cancer? [7]
Can prostate cancer be prevented? [8]
How is prostate cancer treated? [9]

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What is prostate cancer?

The prostate is a small gland in men found below the bladder and in front of the rectum. Prostate cancer develops when prostate cells grow uncontrollably.

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When should you get checked?

If you’re over 50 you’re at risk for developing prostate cancer. Talk with your health care professional about the pros and cons of getting tested–or not getting tested. If you have a close relative, such as your father or brother, who had prostate cancer before age 65, or if you are African American, start talking to your doctor about prostate cancer at 45. If more than one of your close male relatives had prostate cancer before 65, start that talk at 40.

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How do you get checked?

Two common tests for prostate cancer are the PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) blood test and the DRE (Digital Rectal Examination).

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What is the DRE test?

Digital rectum exam (DRE) is an exam in which a doctor inserts a gloved finger into the rectum and feels the prostate gland through the rectal wall to check for bumps or abnormal areas. A DRE is optional.

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What is the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test?

Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is a protein produced by the cells of the prostate gland. The PSA test measures the level of PSA in the blood.

It is normal for men to have low levels of PSA in their blood; however, prostate cancer and some non-cancerous conditions can increase PSA levels. But PSA levels alone do not give doctors enough information to make a diagnosis.

A PSA blood test may be done every one or two years, depending on the results. A man should discuss elevated PSA test results with a healthcare professional. There can be different reasons for an elevated PSA level, including prostate cancer, benign prostate enlargement, inflammation, infection, age and race.

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What are some of the drawbacks to the PSA test as a screening tool?

There is no question that in some cases early detection of prostate cancer followed by prompt treatment saves lives.

It is also clear that some men are treated for cancers that will never cause them harm, and they must live with any side effects and complications of that treatment.

While both the PSA test and DRG test are useful, neither is 100 percent accurate. Sometimes a PSA test indicates cancer where none exists, and sometimes it does not indicate cancer where it does exist.

Still over time, if a PSA level goes up, the chances of having prostate cancer also go up.  Researchers are wroking to improve screening methods and to determine which cancers are likely to be life-threatening.

To help you decide whether to be tested and when, you should talk with your health care professional about the pros and cons of testing.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) also has a guide to help you decide whether to get screened for prostate cancer. Click here [11] to view this guide.

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What are symptoms of prostate cancer?

  • Urinary problems (not being able to urinate, having trouble starting or stopping urine flow, having a weak or interrupted
    urine flow, feeling pain or a burning sensation while urinating)
  • Blood in the urine
  • Painful or difficult erection
  • Pain in lower back, pelvis or upper thighs

Urinary symptoms may also be caused by other health problems, including benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)–enlargement of the prostate.

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Can prostate cancer be prevented?

Maintaing a healthy weight may help reduce risk for prostate cancer. Get regular exercise. Smoking may also increase risk for prostate cancer. Never smoking may decrease your risk. So don’t smoke and if you do smoke, quit. More research is needed to determine whether certain foods or supplements lower the risk of prostate cancer.

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How is prostate cancer treated?

Current treatment options vary, depending on the stage of the cancer and other medical conditions of the individual.

  • Treatments include surgery, radiation or  hormone therapy. Sometimes treatments are combined.
  • Some prostate cancers grow very slowly and do not require immediate treatment. In these cases, men and their doctors may decide on “active surveillance” with regular follow-ups, usually every three to six months. This option should be open to reassessment, as a man’s condition or concerns may change.

Researchers are working to improve current treatment methods and develop new ones.


Article printed from Prevent Cancer Foundation: http://preventcancer.org

URL to article: http://preventcancer.org/prevention/preventable-cancers/prostate-cancer/faq/

URLs in this post:

[1] What is prostate cancer?: #what-prostate-cancer

[2] When should you get checked?: #when-checked-prostate-cancer

[3] How do you get checked?: #how-checked-prostate-cancer

[4] What is the DRE test?: #what-DRE-test

[5] What is the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test?: #what-prostate-cancer-PSA-test

[6] What are some of the drawbacks to the PSA test as a screening tool?: #drawbacks-PSA-test

[7] What are symptoms of prostate cancer?: #symptoms-prostate-cancer

[8] Can prostate cancer be prevented?: #prostate-cancer-prevention

[9] How is prostate cancer treated?: #prostate-cancer-treated

[10] Back to top: #top

[11] here: http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@nho/documents/document/acspc-024618.pdf

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