Health Care

Prostate Cancer Screening: What, When, Why and How?

A Doctor Goes Over a Brochure with Her Senior Patient

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While it largely develops in older men, prostate cancer can happen at any age, and it’s the second cause of cancer death among men in the U.S. That may be a startling statistic, but the good news is that regular screenings can drastically impact treatment outcomes.

Because catching this slow-growing cancer when it’s most treatable is key, we’re here to answer basic questions to help guide you through your prostate cancer screening process.

What is a Prostate Cancer Screening?

Any cancer screening means looking for cancer before it causes symptoms. The goal of screening for prostate cancer is to find cancers that may be at high risk for spreading if left untreated, and to find them early before they spread.

When Should I Get Screened for Prostate Cancer?

Although the medical community agrees it’s a good idea, there really isn’t a hard and fast rule on when prostate cancer screenings should start, or which screening methods should be used. It’s ultimately up to you and your primary care physician to talk about your prostate cancer risk and to create a screening plan that’s right for you. If family history or other risk factors apply in your situation, it's even more important to address it with your physician.

Prostate cancer usually doesn’t cause noticeable symptoms, especially in the early stages. If you do experience any of these symptoms, talk with your doctor right away:

  • Back pain
  • Blood in your urine
  • Changes in your urine flow or frequency
  • Pain while urinating
  • Pelvic pain

If you’re not experiencing symptoms, talk with your provider about prostate cancer screenings between the ages of 50 and 55 when most insurance carriers start covering them, or if any of the following criteria apply to you:

  • Age 40 for men at high risk (family history of prostate cancer, especially more than one close relative)
  • Age 45 for other high-risk men (African American men or those with one close relative with prostate cancer)
  • Age 50 for men at average risk

Why Should I Get Screened for Prostate Cancer?

Catching prostate cancer in its early stages can save your life. Prostate cancer is highly treatable, and most men survive when it’s caught quickly. Start having the conversation regarding prostate cancer screenings with your primary care physician today if you haven’t already.

How Does a Prostate Cancer Screening Work?

There are a few screening options available to help detect prostate cancer, including:

  • Digital rectal exam (DRE): allows your doctor to check your prostate for lumps (polyps) or anything unusual
  • Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test: checks for an increased PSA level, which could be a sign of infection, inflammation or an enlarged prostate
  • Prostate cancer gene 3 RNA test: measures the amount of PCA3 RNA in your urine

Schedule Your Prostate Screening Today

Learning more and talking to your doctor about prostate cancer will help you take charge of your health, from screenings to successful early detection and treatment. To learn more about prostate cancer and screenings, visit us at

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