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Prostate Cancer Screening

By on March 22, 2013

Prostate cancer caused approximately 34,000 deaths in 2011 according to the American Cancer Society. Its diagnosis and mortality is highest in African American men. These numbers are rising so we must stay informed.  If men in your family have had prostate cancer, your risk may be increased.

Are we getting the necessary screenings recommended by our primary care physician? It is recommended that we have a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test or a Digital Rectal Exam (DRE) as early as 40 years of age. If we are asymptomatic should we still get these health screenings? According to The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPTF) we should not.

The treatment of the asymptomatic man could extend lives compared to treatment at time of diagnosis is the rationale behind screening. However, the caveat is these tests sometime give false positives, which would warrant more invasive exams that may lead to acute side affects such as rectal bleeding and other co-morbidities.

Statistics show that prostate cancer is rare before age 50 and very few men die from it before age 60. In addition, more men will be diagnosed with the disease than will die from it. However, these factors are patient specific and depend on family medical history and lifestyle. Prostate cancer may not cause signs or symptoms in its early stages. Advanced prostate cancer may cause signs and symptoms like:

  • Trouble urinating
  • Weak urine flow
  • Blood in the urine or semen
  • Bone pain
  • Swelling in the legs
  • Discomfort in the pelvic area

Prostate cancer is a slow growing malignancy that is highly curative but the screening criteria is under review. These test may not be accurate and may lead to over diagnosis and possibility over-treatment. You should always question your physician to ensure you are well informed of the risks versus benefit of any procedure or treatment.


Maurice T.  Judkins is a Radiation Therapist.  He has formal training in Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT), Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS) and Respiratory Gating Radiation Therapy.

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