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Although prostate cancer is very serious, it can be treated effectively when detected early. However, most men who have early prostate cancer won’t experience any symptoms at all. And if allowed to progress untreated, prostate cancer can spread throughout the body and become life-threatening. That’s why you should discuss with your Mercy doctor whether a routine prostate screening is right for you.
At Mercy, we’ll help you understand your risk of developing prostate cancer and, as needed, test and diagnose. Our team of cancer specialists and health care professionals has helped thousands of men overcome prostate cancer. Our goal is to make sure you’re one of them. There are two common types of prostate cancer screenings: prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test and digital rectal exam (DRE).
A prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test is a blood test that measures the level of PSA in a man’s blood. PSA is a protein produced by the cells of the prostate. Healthy men have low amounts of PSA in the blood. An elevated PSA may indicate an enlarged prostate or be caused by inflammation of the prostate gland or prostate cancer.
The PSA level in blood is measured in units called nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL). Your chance of developing prostate cancer increases as your PSA level increases. 4 ng/mL is a common threshold for determining whether a man needs further testing.
PSA screening is not recommended in low-risk men younger than 55 or older than 70.
A digital rectal exam (DRE) is a test used to check for prostate abnormalities. Your Mercy doctor or nurse will manually insert a gloved, lubricated finger into your rectum to determine if your prostate is:
Neither the PSA test or a DRE can provide conclusive evidence of cancer. Both tests are normally performed as needed by your Mercy primary care physician. If problems are suspected following either test, your Mercy doctor may refer you to a urologist or prostate cancer specialist for further testing.
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