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Prostate Cancer Screening: What You Need to Know

Posted on Sep 9, 2013

Smiling Multi Ethnic Men

Did you know prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among men? In fact, one in six men will have prostate cancer during his lifetime. The good news: More than 99 percent of men survive prostate cancer when it’s detected early.

“It’s really important for all men to see their doctor and discuss prostate cancer screening,” says Steven Roberts, M.D., a Palo Alto Medical Foundation Santa Cruz urologist. “Prostate cancer in the early stages, when it is most curable, often has no symptoms. By the time men are experiencing symptoms, the disease is usually advanced and much harder to treat and cure.”

Prostate Cancer Screening:  Yes or No?

Until recently, a PSA (prostate-specific antigen) blood test and a rectal exam were recommended for all men over 50 to screen for prostate cancer. The PSA test has benefits – it detects prostate cancer early, when it’s most treatable. But it also comes with risks as it can show false positive results, causing men to get unnecessary biopsies.

Because of the risks associated with this screening, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force no longer recommends routine PSA testing for all men over 50. According to the American Urology Association, screening decisions should be tailored to each man, taking his age, family history and overall health into consideration.

“Men may have a greater risk of getting prostate cancer if they are African-American or have a father, brother or son who has prostate cancer,” says Dr. Roberts. “Your doctor will look at all these factors to help you decide whether to screen for prostate cancer or not.”

Learn more about prostate cancer, testing and treatment options, and attend one of these free PAMF events: