Proactive Health : Prostate Cancer Screening at Age 50

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Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers affecting men worldwide and the third most prevalent cancer among Filipino men, next to lung and colorectum cancers.  Risk for this chronic disease increases with age, which makes early detection a vital key to prevention. When detected early, it is more likely to be treated successfully.

What is Prostate Cancer?

Prostate cancer develops in the prostate, a small walnut-shaped gland that produces seminal fluid, which nourishes and transports sperm. While many cases of prostate cancer grow slowly and remain confined to the prostate gland, others can be more aggressive and spread quickly. Early-stage prostate cancer often presents no symptoms, which is why routine screening is crucial for early detection.

Why Screen for Prostate Cancer?

  1. Early Detection Saves Lives: Early-stage prostate cancer often shows no symptoms, making screening the most reliable way to catch the disease before it progresses.
  2. Reduces Mortality Rate: Detecting cancer early allows for more treatment options and a better chance of curing the disease.
  3. Improved Quality of Life: Early detection often means less aggressive treatments and fewer side effects.  

                                                                                                                                             

    Why Start Screening at Age 50?

    1. Increased Risk with Age: The risk of developing prostate cancer increases with age. Men aged 50 and older are at a higher risk, making it a crucial age to begin regular screening.
    2. Family History and Genetics: Men with a family history of prostate cancer are at a higher risk and should consider screening even earlier at around age 45.
    3. Balanced Benefit-Risk Ratio: Screening at 50 strikes a balance between the benefits of early detection and the risks of over-diagnosis and over-treatment. Younger men are less likely to develop prostate cancer, and older men may have other health issues that can complicate screening and treatment.

    Prostate Exam: What You Need to Know

    A prostate exam is a screening test to look for early signs of prostate cancer. An abnormal result may mean that further evaluation and testing is needed.            

    • Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test: A sample of your blood is drawn to determine the level of PSA, a substance produced by the prostate. Elevated PSA level can indicate prostate cancer, but can also be caused by other conditions, such as an enlarged prostate or inflammation. Further testing and evaluation by a urologist is recommended for enlarged PSA level.
    • Digital rectal exam (DRE): A healthcare provider inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into your rectum to feel your prostate and detect lumps or bumps that may indicate cancer. Your provider can tell you the results immediately after the exam.

    When Should Men Get a Prostate Exam?

    • General recommendation: First prostate exam by age 50.
    • High-risk groups: With family history of prostate cancer, first prostate exam is recommended around age 45.

    Preparing for a Prostate Exam

    1. Medical conditions: Inform your healthcare provider about any existing conditions like hemorrhoids, anal fissures, or anal tears that could cause discomfort.
    2. 48 hours sex abstinence before prostate exam: Ejaculation can temporarily increase PSA levels, affecting test results.

    When to Call Your Healthcare Provider

    • If you’re 50 and haven’t had your first prostate exam, schedule an appointment.
    • If you’re at higher risk (e.g., family history of prostate cancer), have your first prostate exam by age 45.
    • If you develop symptoms of urinary tract obstruction, such as difficulty urinating, consult your doctor immediately.

    Prostate cancer is a serious health concern for men, particularly as they age. By staying informed and proactive, men can take control of their health and reduce the risk posed by prostate cancer. Regular screening at age 50 is a critical step in this proactive health strategy.

    For more information, contact the Institute of Urology at (02)8711-4141 local 538.

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