Screening is when doctors look for cancer before a person has any symptoms. This can help find cancer at an early stage and may make it easier to treat. Screening tests are given when you have no cancer symptoms and may be periodically repeated. If a screening test is abnormal, more tests may follow.
In prostate cancer, there is not a single test or procedure that everyone agrees on that is helpful for screening men. Some tests that are used are a digital rectal exam (DRE) and a prostate-specific antigen test (PSA). During a DRE, a doctor will examine your prostate with a gloved finger to look for any unusual lumps or growth. With a PSA test, doctors look for elevations of the PSA substance in the blood that can sometimes signify the presence of prostate cancer. A biopsy of the prostate may follow an abnormal DRE or elevated PSA.
The decision to get screened depends on many factors, including a man’s family history, age, race and symptoms. You should discuss the risk and benefits of screening for with your doctor.