As men age, their risk for prostate cancer increases, and the American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends that men make an informed decision with their healthcare provider about being screened. After discussing the uncertainties, risks, and potential benefits of prostate cancer screening, men who want to be screened should get a PSA blood test and a digital rectal exam may also be recommended.
Medicare pays for one prostate cancer screening test each year. Check with your provider and plan for coverage details.
In men who report prostate symptoms, PSA testing and digital rectal examination can help determine the nature of the problem. Talk with your doctor about what is best for you and see your doctor right away if you have any of these symptoms:
- Frequent urge to urinate
- Need to get up many times during the night to urinate
- Blood in urine or semen
- Pain or burning urination
- Painful ejaculation
- Frequent pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, pelvic or rectal area, or upper thighs
- Dribbling of urine
Men 50 and older are at a higher risk for prostate cancer and the ACS says, about six in 10 cases are diagnosed in men 65 or older. The average age of diagnosis is about 66.
Not all prostate issues are cancer. Other common prostate problems include prostatitis, which is an inflammation, or swelling, of the prostate, and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) which is an enlarged prostate due to something other than cancer.
The National Institutes of Health report that researchers have not found proven ways to prevent prostate problems, but a good offense is the best defense. Recognizing symptoms and having an open discussion with your primary-care provider can help you get early treatment with the best possible outcomes.