Every Man Should Know about Prostate Cancer Screening 

Should I or shouldn’t I?  That’s the question that men face when it comes to being screened for prostate cancer. Controversies center on the potential for false-positives or over-treatment.  So, what should men know before they decide on screening?

"Despite the flaws, screening remains the best available tool for spotting the first signs of prostate cancer,” said Wendy Poage, President of the Prostate Conditions Education Council.

Here are five key facts you should know about prostate cancer screening:

1. Screening is Not A Diagnosis -Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) blood tests and the Digital Rectal Exam (DRE) provide valuable information to men and their doctors, but these tests are not a conclusive diagnosis.  Abnormal results are a “red flag” that a prostate biopsy may be needed to check for prostate cancer.    

2. High PSA Levels Offer a Warning Sign - There is no “magic number” that tells whether cancer is present.  Generally, a PSA level above 2.5 ng/ml of PSA per milliliter of blood is considered high, but the rate of change in your PSA is even more important.  This is why having a PSA on a regular basis is important, starting with a baseline PSA at the age of 40.

3. Regular Prostate Screenings Based on PSA Baseline - Men should be screened for prostate cancer on a regular basis; however, how often depends on the baseline PSA test, which should be started at the age of 40. 

PCEC recommends men and their doctor’s follow the below guidelines for additional PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) monitoring:

Men with a PSA result less than 1.0ng/ml should be retested in five years

Men with a PSA result between 1-2.0ng/ml should be retested every other year.

Men who have a PSA greater than 2.0ng/ml should receive annual PSA testing.

4. Diagnosis Does Not Always Require Immediate Treatment - Not all men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer need to be treated immediately.  In cases where the tumor is small and not spreading aggressively, some patients undergo periodic testing instead to check whether the whether the disease has progressed and treatment is needed.  This is often referred to as active surveillance or watchful waiting.

5. Free and Low-Cost Screenings are Available – PCEC with their screening site partners offer men’s health screenings across the country in September, as well as throughout the year.  These screenings usually include a PSA blood test and  a digital rectal exam (DRE).  Many of our screening site partners screen for other men’s health issues as well.  Please check the screening site for more information on what kind of testing is being offered.  Screening Site Finder

"Routine screenings offer an opportunity to catch the disease in its early stages.  Having the advantage of an early diagnosis is crucial for the 1 in 9 men who will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime.” -said Wendy Poage, President of PCEC.

Early detection saved my life.  More men need to know about their risk, and their opportunities to get screened.

~ Keith Wegen, prostate cancer survivor

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