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How to Detect Prostate Cancer

Updated on July 31, 2011

Early Screening for Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is on the rise and mostly because men are being diagnosed earlier due to more effective screening techniques. Prostate cancer can become very serious or be cured and it is more easily cured when the cancer is detected early enough for effective treatment. Read below to discover some of the screening techniques and how they may help to detect prostate cancer before it spreads to bone or other soft tissue.

Digital Rectal Exam

A digital rectal exam (DRE) is done to determine if there is cancerous growth that can be detected through the wall of the rectum. You doctor will lubricate a gloved finger and feel inside the anterior wall of the rectum to determine if there is cancer growth that can be palpated. A DRE is done during the same visit as the blood-screening test.

Prostate Specific Antigen

The most common type of screening is a blood test called prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. This blood test detects the levels of the prostate specific antigen, which is useful in helping to determine cancer. There is a correlation between elevated levels of PSA and prostate cancer, however some men can have a high PSA and not have cancer. PSA is used with other screening methods to detect the presence of cancer. If you have an elevated PSA level your doctor will most likely order a biopsy to have the cells inside your prostate analyzed for cancer.

Most likely your physician or an urologist will order a biopsy if you have an elevated PSA and you are at risk for prostate cancer. A biopsy is a procedure and with any procedure there are potential risks involved. The most common symptom is discomfort from the procedure. There are two lobes in the prostate and during the biopsy the physician will take about 6 samples of less from each lobe using a very thin needle. The cells are examined by a pathologist to determine the cellular component and likelihood of cancer. The results will indicate how aggressive the cancer is and will help determine further treatment options. If cancer is detected as low volume disease options for treatment may include repeat PSA testing and repeat biopsy every 6 months to ensure the cancer is not spreading. If the cancer is higher volume then more aggressive treatment is required such as hormone therapy, radiation therapy, or a prostatectomy.

How Does Prostate Cancer Spread?

Prostate cancer usually spreads first to the lymph nodes outside of the prostate and then into bone. In order to exclude the possibility of bone metastasis (spread of the cancer) the doctor will order a bone scan. A bone scan will show all the areas of bone that have cancerous cells.

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    • Roseann Cole profile image

      Roseann Cole 6 years ago from Midwest USA

      I appreciate your comments. I encourage all men to go in for annual exams for overall good health and prevention.

    • Phil Plasma profile image

      Phil Plasma 6 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

      Yes, periodic exams are definitely a requirement these days. Interesting hub, thanks for sharing it.