Learning how to check for prostate cancer may save your life. According to the American Cancer Society, more than 16% of men will be diagnosed with this disease during his lifetime and 1 in 35 will die from prostate cancer. Early detection significantly increases your chances of survival.
Know if you have factors which place you at increased risk of developing prostate cancer. Factors include being over the age of 50, African-American and having a family history of the disease, according to the American Cancer Society. The American Cancer Society also states that those in North America and northwestern Europe are more likely to develop prostate cancer, though reasons for this remain unclear. Diets high in red meat and fatty dairy products and those low in fruits and vegetables may also contribute to the development of prostate cancer.
- Check for prostate cancer by performing monthly testicular self-exams. Check one testicle at a time, holding it between your thumbs and fingers and gently rolling. Look for hard or smooth lumps and any changes in the testes.
Check for prostate cancer in the early stages by having a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test done. Prostate-specific antigen is substance made by the prostate gland. PSA tests can detect cancer in men early, but the use of these tests is sometimes questioned. This is because high PSA levels do not indicate the aggressiveness of the cancer, resulting in unnecessary surgery and treatment in some cases, according to the American Cancer Society.
- A digital rectal exam (DRE) can also be performed by a physician to check for prostate cancer in its early stages. To perform a DRE, the doctor feels the prostate gland for suspicious bumps by inserting a gloved finger in the rectum.
- Deciding how and when to test for prostate cancer should be up to every individual man, according to the American Cancer Society. Men should discuss the pros and cons of screening tests with their doctors at the age of 50. Men at high risk for prostate cancer should have this discussion 5 to 10 years earlier. The American Cancer Society recommends annual screening for high-risk men. Those with low PSA levels should be screened again every 2 years.
False high or low PSA tests results due to herbal supplements, obesity or other medical conditions are possible. The physician should have your complete history and current medical records, including any over-the-counter medicines or supplements you take, prior to drawing any conclusions from the PSA test.