Ask the Expert Q: “I just turned 42 and was told I need to get a PSA test. What is the process for that test, and what will it tell me?”
June 16th, 2012 by Jaclyn
A: The most common and accepted forms of screening available are the Prostate Specific Antigen test or PSA, and a digital rectal examination. The lifetime risk of contracting prostate cancer is only about 16%, while the risk of dying from it is only about 3%. Controversy exists over the proper approach to prostate screening.
The American Urological Association (AUA) advocates the combination of PSA testing and digital rectal examinations beginning at the age of 40. The American Cancer Society recommends discussing the risks and benefits of screening with men between the ages of 50 and 75 years of age, and initiating screening at 45 years of age in African American males and those with a first degree relative with prostate cancer at an age less than 65.
Anyone with prostate symptoms should have a digital rectal exam and a PSA. If you have an abnormal PSA result, you should talk to your doctor! An abnormal PSA can be due to several factors the least common of which is prostate cancer. The most common cause is prolonged pressure or trauma to the prostate gland, such as prolonged driving, horseback riding, lawn mowing etc., followed closely by benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) which is a benign and medically treatable disease. Your physician should conduct a digital rectal examination. The decision to proceed with further testing should then be based on the results of this exam, your personal risk of prostate cancer, and your own comfort level.