Nobody ever wants to be told that they have cancer, yet unfortunately as things currently stand, 1 in 2 people will contract some form of this awful disease at some point in their lives.
The great news, however, is that scientists and medical researchers have made some truly astonishing breakthroughs in their quest to find a viable cure for cancer. Survival rates for cancer are now higher than ever, but like all things in life, prevention is the best cure.
Today we’re focusing on prostate cancer screening and will be telling you as much about this topic as we possibly can.
Prostate cancer screening recommendations
When it comes to prostate cancer screening recommendations, experts suggest that men should speak to their healthcare provider and make an informed decision about whether they wish to be screened for this particular strain of the disease.
Prostate cancer can affect men of any age, though some are more at risk than others. You should consider screening if:
- You are aged 40 and are at a high-risk of contracting the disease. Those at a high risk are people with more than one first-degree relative that also had prostate cancer at a young age.
- You are aged 45 and are at a high risk of contracting the disease. In this instance, men of an African-American heritage are at risk, as well as men with a first-degree relative such as a father, son, or brother, that also suffered with prostate cancer below the age of 65.
- You are aged 50 or older and are considered to be at an average risk of the disease.
Tools for diagnosis
In terms of how the screening is performed, a lot of men are put off by the thought of undergoing a rectal examination.
In truth, a digital rectal exam (DRE) may be performed as part of the prostate cancer screening, but the most common screening method is actually the PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) blood test
Here’s a little more about the common tools for prostate cancer diagnosis.
The thought of undergoing this examination puts men off so much, that they would rather stay home and take their chances than speak to a doctor.
The examination does not hurt, is over very quickly, and has saved countless lives.
A doctor will simply insert a gloved finger up the rectum of the patient and will feel the prostate. If they detect any lumps on it, or irregularities, this could be a warning sign of cancer.
The PSA test is a simple blood test which is carried out to detect levels of a protein known as prostate specific antigen. The test is performed to test for prostate cancer and irregularities with the prostate gland that could result in cancer later in life.
In your prostate, your cells produce a protein known as PSA. It is perfectly normal to have a little PSA in the blood. Unfortunately, prostate cancer cells also produce this protein.
As you grow older, your prostate may enlarge naturally, and the level of PSA may also increase. Abnormally high levels of PSA in the blood, could indicate an issue with the prostate gland, that could potentially be cancer.
However, it is important to not that this is not always the case. A high PSA level does is not always indicative of prostate cancer and overtreatment can happen as a result.
A prostate biopsy is a procedure used to detect prostate cancer. Small samples of the prostate are removed and then observed under the microscope.
A urologist or surgeon usually performs this procedure, and looks at the prostate cell samples to see if they are cancerous. Cancer cells are often irregular in size and shape, and exhibit aggressive growth.
Doctors usually recommend a biopsy of your prostate gland based on certain findings. One is when your prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test results are higher than normal for your age.
Another is when your doctor detects some signs of a prostate problem during your digital rectal exam (DRE).
It is important to note that prostate biopsies have a number of painful and negative side effects.
This includes the risk of infection, bleeding, pain, and sexual health problems. Research has also shown that biopsies can be largely inaccurate.
Even if you take many samples, biopsies can still sometimes miss a cancer. This occurs if none of the biopsy needles pass through the rights areas. Thus, the biopsy will have a false-negative result.
Prior to having a biopsy, do your research and ensure that
the benefits outweigh them before deciding to go for it.
When discussing prostate cancer, your doctor may talk to you about something known as the Gleason Score. In this
The Gleason Score was initially established back in the 1960s – 1970s. It is basically a grading system which is utilized in order to detect the severity and aggressiveness of prostate cancer.
Your Gleason Score rating could indicate how aggressive your strain of cancer is, and it would also help determine which treatment options would be the most appropriate.
The score ranges from 1 and 5. 1 is healthy and 5 is abnormal which COULD indicate cancer.
The Gleason Score will grade tissue taken from a prostate gland which has then undergone a biopsy.
Typically, most forms of cancer will score a grading of between 3 and 5.
Things get a little more complex here because prostate
The main grade is assigned to describe the cells making up the largest section of the tumour. The cells making up the next largest section will receive a secondary grade.
So, if the primary is 4 and the secondary is 3, most of the tumour will be a 4, while the next biggest section will be a 3. Now the numbers are combined together to provide the total Gleason Score, which in this case would be 4+3 =7. Most scores are between 6 and 10. The higher the total, the more aggressive the cancer is likely to be.
But in recent years, doctors have found out that new imaging studies like high-resolution MRI and ultrasound can be alternatives to prostate biopsy.
They have proven to be very accurate and safe. A multi-parametric MRI or a color Doppler ultrasound has a 95 to 98% chance of determining the location and grade of prostate cancer cells.
According to the Diagnostic Center for Disease, an MRI scan predicts and confirms the presence of prostate cancer more frequently than a biopsy.
A hi-res MRI features the most sensitive and specific imaging modality that allows it to produce a very clear picture of the entire prostate and pelvic region.
Experts claim that this is a quantum leap from the blind biopsy approach. It will minimize the need for biopsies, and could potentially save millions of dollars for the healthcare industry.
PCA3 stands for “Prostate Cancer gene 3”, a protein that is produced by prostate cancer cells at much higher levels. PCA3 leaks into the urine when the prostate gland is stimulated.
Unlike the PSA test, a high PCA3 test can only result from cancer – not from an enlarged prostate, inflamed prostate or other non-cancerous prostate problem.
For this test, you need to undergo a DRE. This will stimulate PCA3 to leak into the urine.
A urine sample is then collected and sent to the lab. It takes about 1-2 weeks to get the results.
The higher the PCA3 score, the more likely you have prostate cancer.
This test is also used to determine the effectiveness of cancer treatment. The higher the score, the more aggressive is the prostate cancer.
As you can see above, there are now multiple screening tools available for when it comes to prostate cancer, but the main thing to remember is the earlier you catch the disease, or any potential prostate issues, the more likely you will be to make a full recovery.
Whether you are at a greater risk or not, always get screened for prostate cancer, and don’t put it off. Screening could literally save your life.
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