Screening for prostate cancer?
There are two tests used for prostate cancer screening, and they are digital rectal examination and prostate-specific antigen test.
The digital rectal examination (DRE) is performed by a doctor who will put a gloved finger into your back passage to feel the back portion of the prostate to determine whether the prostate is abnormal.
The prostate-specific antigen test (PSA) involves drawing a blood sample from you to measure the level of PSA in your blood. PSA is produced by prostate glands and released into the blood. Several abnormal conditions of the prostate like benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate) or prostate cancer could cause an increase in the blood PSA level.
However, unless you experience symptoms, before you decide to go for a DRE / PSA blood test, consider the following facts:
1. The accuracy of the DRE is dependent on the skill and experience of the person who performs the test,
- about 5 out of 6 men with abnormal DRE results do not have prostate cancer, and on the other hand
- about 1 out of 2 men with prostate cancer may not be detected by DRE
2. Since an increase in PSA level could be caused by conditions other than prostate cancer,
- about 3 out of 4 men with a raised PSA level do not have prostate cancer, and on the other hand
- about 1 out of 4 men with prostate cancer may not have a raised PSA level
What further test will be done to confirm a diagnosis of prostate cancer?
If the results of DRE and/or PSA test, which are not definitive diagnostic test, are abnormal, your doctor may refer you to a specialist for further investigations. Such investigations include a prostate ultrasound and removal of tissue samples (biopsy) from the prostate to determine whether cancer is present.