Understanding The Process Of Screening For Prostate Cancer

The prostate is a gland found in men that produces a fluid that helps protect sperm. Unfortunately, men are at risk of prostate cancer; typically prostate cancer is diagnosed in older men, but it is possible for younger men to have the condition as well. When prostate cancer is detected early the cancer is less likely to spread to other parts of the body, and outcomes are much better. Thus, many doctors recommend that older men and men displaying symptoms of prostate cancer be screened.Continue reading to learn more about the prostate cancer screening process:

Digital Rectal Exam

In a man, the prostate is located in front of the rectum. A doctor is able to feel the prostate by doing a digital rectal exam,which involves putting on a glove, lubricating the glove, and then inserting a finger in the rectum to determine if the prostate is enlarged or has any other abnormalities. Some men may find a digital rectal exam uncomfortable, but it should not be painful. Best case scenario, your doctor does not find the prostate to feel abnormal. In the event that your doctor has some concerns about how your prostate feels, you will need additional diagnostic tests.

Prostate-Specific Antigen Test

In some cases, your doctor may recommend a prostate-specific antigen test. With this type of test, a sample of blood is taken and sent to a laboratory. At the lab, the blood is carefully analyzed for the presence of prostate-specific antigen, a type of antigen made by the prostate. If your blood sample indicates that there is a high amount of prostate-specific antigen present, that could be a red flag that indicates an infection, enlargement, or cancer. Some health care professionals find prostate-specific antigen tests controversial because they can result in false positives. This leads to more invasive testing than is actually needed.


If there is any reason to believe that there is an abnormality with your prostate, your doctor will want a better idea of what is going on. This is usually done by performing a transrectal ultrasound, which will create an image of your prostate on a screen. With an ultrasound, your doctor will be able to see for sure if your prostate is enlarged or is shaped abnormally. In the event that the ultrasound shows a problem, you may need to have a prostate biopsy so tissue from the prostate can be tested to see if cancer cells are present.