Prostate cancer screening helps in diagnosing a disease before the symptoms appear. An early diagnosis is better to ensure better treatment and mitigating the symptoms. It is essential to understand that if a urologist suggests a screening test, it doesn’t necessarily mean the patient has cancer; Screening procedures are carried out on a routine basis.
Based on the prostate cancer screening test results, you may or may not be advised to take up further tests. An abnormal screening test would need to be confirmed with a diagnostic test, while normal values don’t need further investigation.
The patient should understand that there are no standard tests that can be used to detect prostate cancer. Different cancers are screened differently and would be based on the type and specific location of the tumor.
There are two tests that have been used to confirm prostate cancer although there are no screening tests specifically for Prostate cancer. These include:
Digital Rectal Exam
This test involves medical examination of the rectum in which the doctor inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into the lower part of the rectum to look for any bumps or tumorous growth, since prostate cancer growth usually begins towards the back side. The test can be little discomforting and painful for men who have hemorrhoids, however the discomfort is temporary. DRE is considered less effective than routine PSA blood test in detecting cancer, but it usually advised for men with normal PSA levels.
Prostate-specific Antigen Test
This is a more specific screening and helps in measuring levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in the blood. It is produced in all men but its levels increase in men with prostate cancer and other conditions like inflammation of the prostate or benign prostatic hyperplasia. So far, PSA is a non-specific test for prostate cancer but efforts are on to make it more specific.
Under special circumstances, a prostate cancer gene 3 (PCA3) RNA test may be used for certain patients. This is usually advised in patients that have high levels of PSA and no detection of prostate cancer in the initial biopsy. This test is used to measure the amount of PCA3 RNA in the urine after a DRE and if higher levels are detected in urine, chances of confirming prostate cancer in second biopsy are high.
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