Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men and second most commonly diagnosed cancer in American men. Prostate cancer screening with a risk assessment, prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test, and a digital rectal exam (DRE) detects cancer at an earlier stage than in men who have no screening. A positive screening does not mean that you have prostate cancer; a biopsy is required to determine if cancer is present.
There are certain risk factors associated with the development of prostate cancer, including:
- Age: Risk increases with age.
- Race: African American men are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with and to die from prostate cancer.
- Family History: Men with a close relative who has prostate cancer are at an increased risk.
- Diet: Studies show there may be a link between a diet higher in fat and prostate cancer.
- Chemical Exposure: Men with a history of exposure to certain chemicals, such as pesticides and herbicides, and veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange are at a higher risk. Also, newer studies show that firefighters are at an increased risk.
The American Urological Association recommends screening at the following ages:
- Average risk men benefit the most between the ages of 55 and 69.
- High risk men between the ages of 40 and 54 should discuss screening with their healthcare provider.
- Men age 70 and older should only be screened if in excellent health.
This annual screening takes into account a health history that assesses for risk, the PSA trend and the DRE to assess for the need for follow up.