What Screening Tests Are There?
Cancer screening means looking for cancer before it
causes symptoms. However, most prostate cancers grow slowly or not
Two tests are commonly used to screen for prostate cancer—
- Digital rectal exam (DRE): A doctor or nurse
inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to estimate the
size of the prostate and feel for lumps or other
- Prostate specific antigen (PSA) test: Measures
the level of PSA in the blood. PSA is a substance made by the
prostate. The levels of PSA in the blood can be higher in men who
have prostate cancer. The PSA level may also be elevated in other
conditions that affect the prostate.
As a rule, the higher the PSA level in the blood, the more
likely a prostate problem is present. But many factors, such as age
and race, can affect PSA levels. Some prostate glands make more PSA
than others. PSA levels also can be affected by—
- Certain medical procedures.
- Certain medications.
- An enlarged prostate.
- A prostate infection.
Because many factors can affect PSA levels, your doctor is the
best person to interpret your PSA test results.