Prostate cancer is a serious medical condition that nobody wants to face. Still, prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer that men face. If you are going in for a prostate cancer screening, being aware of the types of tests involved in diagnosis may help you feel less nervous about your upcoming appointment.
Medical History & Questions
The process of testing for prostate cancer often starts with a questionnaire. You may discuss urinary issues and sexual problems you have experienced. You may also face additional cancer screening if you have a family history of prostate cancer.
Digital Rectal Examination
If a doctor suspects that you may be at some risk for prostate cancer, they may opt for a digital rectal examination. Screening without prior symptoms typically starts around age 50.
During this examination, the doctor will insert a lubricated and gloved finger into the rectum, feeling for the prostate. The doctor will be feeling for abnormalities, especially those related to size and shape.
Prostate-Specific Antigen Test
A PSA test involves taking a small sample of blood from the patient's arm. The tests will look for PSA, which is a chemical produced by the prostate. Your doctor will be analyzing its levels for abnormalities.
A transrectal ultrasound is used to evaluate the size and shape of the prostate for any abnormalities. The ultrasound probe used is relatively small, much like a finger in size. Using ultrasound waves, doctors can use the probe to create an accurate image of the prostate. The entire process lasts 10 minutes or so, and doctors turn to this option if a man shows high levels of PSA or an abnormal rectal exam result.
In many cases, ultrasounds are combined with MRIs. The results of the MRI and ultrasound are used together to produce a three-dimensional image that shows doctors whether or not you might need additional screening.
A biopsy involves the collection of prostate tissue for further testing. The collection process is uncomfortable, but not extremely painful thanks to the quick-acting equipment and numbing techniques used by doctors. This is the best way to identify cancer in the prostate.
No matter what kind of screening you go through, it is also always smart to have a second opinion. Even doctors make mistakes, no matter how accurate these screening methods may be. Once you have been diagnosed with cancer, treatment options are available to help you move forward.