The second most common cancer in men in the United States (after skin cancer), prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in men.
Symptoms of prostate cancer
In its early stage, prostate cancer often has no symptoms, although common symptoms with advanced prostate cancer do appear. These include:
- Weak or interrupted (“stop-and-go”) flow of urine
- Sudden urge to urinate
- Frequent urination (especially at night)
- Trouble starting the flow of urine
- Trouble emptying the bladder completely
- Pain or burning while urinating
- Blood in the urine or semen
- A pain in the back, hips, or pelvis that doesn’t go away
- Shortness of breath, feeling very tired, fast heartbeat, dizziness, or pale skin caused by anemia
The same symptoms may be connected to other conditions, such as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, talk to your healthcare provider.
Screening for prostate cancer
While there are no standard or routine screening tests for prostate cancer, various types of prostate cancer screening tests have been studied or used in clinical practice, including:
- Digital rectal exam (DRE) – an internal physical examination of the prostate performed by inserting a lubricated glove finger into the rectum.
- Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test – a blood test measuring the level of PSA in the blood. A higher level may indicate prostate cancer, an infection or inflammation of the prostate, or BPH.
- Prostate cancer gene 3 (PCA3) test – a test measuring the amount of PCA3 present in the urine. The higher the level, the more likely that prostate cancer is present.
The age at which men should discuss with their healthcare providers the need for screening tests is based on an individual’s risk level for developing prostate cancer:
- Average risk – men with no prostate cancer in their immediate family. Discuss screening at age 50.
- High risk – African Americans or those with a first-degree relative (father, brother, or son) who was diagnosed with prostate cancer before age 65. Discuss screening at age 45.
- Very high risk – those with more than one first-degree relative who had prostate cancer before age 65 or if you have specific inherited predispositions to prostate cancer such as Lynch syndrome or BRCA carries. Discuss screening at age 40.
It is important to know that the information in this post, including Sarah Cannon’s recommendations for screening, is accurate as of the publishing date.