Why Screen for Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer often goes undetected until it is incurable, as there are usually no early symptoms. This is why screening is so critical. Prostate cancers usually grow in an area of the prostate away from functional structures. Therefore a growing tumor often doesn’t cause symptoms, so there is no reason to think something is wrong.
More advanced prostate cancers sometimes cause symptoms, such as:
- The need to urinate frequently or urgently.
- Difficulty starting or holding back urinating.
- Weak, dribbling or interrupted flow of urine.
- Burning during urination.
- Leaking urine when you laugh or cough.
- Having difficulty urinating while standing up.
- Blood in the urine or semen.
- Pressure or pain in the rectum.
- Pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, pelvis or thighs.
It is important to note that the above aren’t symptoms of the cancer itself, but the result of the cancer growth that is blocking the passageway of urine/stool or pressing on nerves in a new location where the cancer has spread (typically bone).
Having these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean that you have prostate cancer, as many of these symptoms also have benign causes.
How do I detect prostate cancer early?
Prostate cancer doesn’t typically have early warning signs. As a result, it’s important to work with your healthcare practitioner to know your risk. Prompt Prostate Genetic Score™ (PGS) provides men with their personalized lifetime risk of prostate cancer. Using a simple cheek swab, Prompt PGS is able to identify those men at greatest risk of prostate cancer and empower them and their healthcare practitioners to take action by getting screened before it’s too late.
Once you understand your personalized risk, you and your healthcare practitioner may decide to move forward with a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. An exam can also be conducted to feel the prostate gland to detect any abnormalities. If the results of these tests are abnormal, then further testing may be conducted. If prostate cancer is found as a result of early screening, it may be in an earlier and more treatable stage than if no screening were done at all.
What is a PSA test and how does it work?
PSA is an enzyme which is only made by the prostate and is measured by a blood test. In addition to prostate cancer, many benign (noncancerous) conditions can increase a man’s PSA levels. The most common causes of PSA elevation are inflammation of the prostate and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), or enlargement of the prostate,so having a high PSA score does not automatically indicate prostate cancer.
Men may elect to get a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test as it can be an early sign that cancer may be present. Unfortunately, as PSA is not specific to cancer, many men suffer from needless anxiety and undergo painful and expensive diagnostic procedures to follow up on a PSA rise which is not cancer related.