With the exception of non-melanoma skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most prevalent type of cancer amongst men. It affects around 35,000 men each year with around 66% of these diagnoses being amongst men who are aged 50 and over. It begins when the prostate cells start to multiply in a rapid and uncontrollable way leading to the formation of a cancerous tumour. This can then lead to a number of undesirable symptoms including difficulty urinating properly and pain in the hips, groin and lower back. If you suspect that you may have prostate cancer for the above reasons or for any other reason you should go see your doctor for further testing. In this article I will be discussing four of the tests that they may use.
1) PROTEIN SPECIFIC ANTIGEN (PSA) TEST:- Your prostate produces a protein called PSA. A PSA test quite simply measures the level of PSA that is in your blood. A small amount of PSA is normal but high levels of blood PSA are often linked with prostate cancer. The PSA test is not 100% accurate because other factors such as your age can influence PSA levels.
2) DIGITAL RECTAL EXAM (DRE):-This prostate cancer test involves your doctor placing a gloved finger inside your rectum. They will then feel your prostate gland to see if it has changed shape or increased in size. The DRE also has its limitations because a cancerous prostate may still feel normal from the outside.
3) TRANS RECTAL ULTRASOUND SCAN (TRUS):- This test uses sound waves to build an image of your prostate. Your doctor can then use this picture to measure your prostate and see if it looks abnormal. Again the TRUS is not the perfect prostate cancer test because a normal sized, normal shaped prostate can still turn out to be cancerous.
4) BIOPSY:- This test involves a tissue sample being taken from the prostate and examined in the laboratory. The laboratory tests can then be used to determine if the cells in the prostate are cancerous. Although a biopsy is one of the best prostate cancer tests available there are instances when a prostate biopsy comes back negative despite cancerous cells being present.
Prostate cancer affects 35,000 men every year. Therefore, if you have any reason to believe you may have contracted this disease go and see your doctor right away and ask them about getting yourself tested. Whilst each of the tests has its limitations, collectively they provide a good indicator as to whether your prostate has become cancerous.
Whilst every intention has been made to make this article accurate and informative, it is intended for general information only. Prostate cancer is a very serious, life threatening condition and you should discuss any concerns, treatments or lifestyle changes fully with your doctor.