Why Should You Be Checked For Prostate Cancer, And What Does This Entail?
Male humans have a prostate gland, which sits just behind the penis and secretes fluid that adds volume to the ejaculate. As men grow older, some begin to have issues with this gland. It can become inflamed and irritated, and it can also become cancerous. Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in men, but luckily, there are several easy ways to test for this cancer, and if it is detected early, it is pretty treatable. Keep reading for a closer look at why prostate cancer screening is so important, and what it entails.
Why is prostate cancer screening so important?
Some men figure that if they do not have any symptoms of cancer, their prostate must be just fine. In most cases, this reasoning is correct. However, prostate cancer can develop for a while before it causes any symptoms. The goal of screening is to detect cancer in its earliest stages — before it leads to those notorious symptoms like trouble urinating or pelvic pain.
If prostate cancer is detected early, treatment may simply involve removing the prostate gland, which is actually a pretty simple surgery. If you were to wait until the cancer progressed and caused symptoms, you may need more invasive treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiation. There's also a risk of the cancer metastasizing or spreading to other places in the body, in which case it has a much higher risk of being deadly.
What does screening entail?
Many men recoil at the idea of prostate cancer screening, but it's not nearly as invasive or painful as you might expect. Most doctors use what is called a PSA test. PSA stands for prostate-specific antigen. This is just a blood test. Your doctor collects a small sample of your blood and tests it for the presence of this antigen.
If too much of the antigen is present in your blood, you may have prostate cancer, and you will then have to undergo a few other tests, such as palpation of the prostate and a biopsy. If your blood levels of PSA are within the normal range, then you most likely do not have prostate cancer, and you should not have to undergo further testing. However, some doctors do prefer to also palpate the prostate in order to ensure other problems, like a benign enlarged prostate, are not present. This examination only takes a minute and is truly for your own good.
Prostate screening may not be fun, but it's vital if you want to protect yourself from cancer.