The Importance of Prostate Cancer Screenings

Prostate cancer is the second most common type of cancer in men, ranking just behind skin cancer. It’s estimated that nearly 250,000 American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2021, but the good news is that survival rates are high when it’s detected early.

Early stage prostate cancer is often local, which means it’s only in the prostate and it hasn’t spread elsewhere in the body. Treatment is most effective for early stage prostate cancer, and it gets more complex when the cancer spreads.

All men are at risk for prostate cancer, but your risk increases with age and other factors, like a family history of this type of cancer. Protecting your health starts with preventive care, and regular prostate cancer screenings are the best way to identify cancer as early as possible, when it’s most treatable.

At our office in Millburn, New Jersey, Eric Seaman, MD, and our team specialize in men’s health and urology. We offer routine physicals, prostate cancer screenings, and cancer care for men of all ages.

Prostate cancer lacks early warning signs

The prostate, a small gland in the male reproductive system, is located below the bladder and surrounds the urethra. It produces seminal fluid and aids in transporting sperm. Prostate cancer occurs when abnormal, cancerous cells begin growing in the prostate.

In its early stages, prostate cancer has no warning signs or noticeable symptoms. Since it’s most treatable when it’s identified early, regular prostate cancer screenings are the best way to protect your health. 

Most cases of prostate cancer are slow-growing, but if the cancer is left untreated, it can get worse and cause noticeable symptoms. More advanced prostate cancer may cause symptoms like pelvic pain, urinary problems, or blood in semen.

Regular prostate cancer screenings identify issues early

Depending on your age and your risk factors, Dr. Seaman may recommend adding prostate cancer screenings to your annual physical exams. The screening may include an exam and/or bloodwork, and the purpose is to detect signs of cancer before it begins causing symptoms.

What to expect with a prostate cancer screening

Men with an average risk of prostate cancer should begin routine screenings around age 50. However, the American Cancer Society has identified certain factors that could increase your risk of prostate cancer.

Black men may be more likely to have prostate cancer than other races. If you have a father or brother who was diagnosed with prostate cancer before age 65, your risk may be higher. If you have more than one close family member who was diagnosed with prostate cancer early, your risk may be even higher.

Dr. Seaman recommends when to begin prostate cancer screening based on your unique risk factors. If you could benefit from routine screenings, he may use a digital exam, blood test, or a combination of both to evaluate for cancer.

Digital exams involve inserting a gloved finger into your rectum for just a few moments. Dr. Seaman gently feels your prostate for hard areas or irregularities that could indicate cancer. Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood tests may be used as another type of screening.

If cancer is suspected, additional testing can confirm your diagnosis. Dr. Seaman may recommend a prostate biopsy to find out more about the cancer, or perform other tests, such as an ultrasound or bone scan, to find out if the cancer has spread.

Prostate cancer screening is the most effective way to identify this cancer early and start a treatment plan that’s appropriate for you. To learn more about your risk or to schedule an exam, give our team a call at 973-259-6695 or request an appointment online.

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