The prostate gland is about the size of a walnut. It sits just below the bladder and surrounds the tube through which urine flows (urethra). Its function is to produce part of the fluid that the sperm is carried in (ejaculate). As with other parts of the body the prostate can be affected by cancer.
If you are a man over the age of 40 you’re at risk for prostate cancer.
In the early stages of prostate cancer there are normally no symptoms, so men who are not being screened for prostate cancer won’t know that they have it. This is why screening is so important.
What Screening Tests should be done to screen for prostate cancer and from what age?
The Prostate Cancer Foundation recommends screening using a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test and a Digital Rectal Examination (DRE):
– From the age of 40 in black African patients and in those with a positive family history of prostate and/or breast cancer in a first degree relative.
– From the age of 45 years in all other males.
– In addition, patients with a history of lower urinary tract symptoms and/or clinical suspicion of prostate cancer regardless of age group should have their PSA tested.
The need for regular screening will depend on the PSA score and DRE result.
The Prostate Specific Antigen Test (PSA)
The PSA test is a blood test that gives an indication of whether something is wrong with your prostate. If your PSA result comes back high it could be cancer or it could just be an infection. The PSA test does not pick up all the different types of prostate cancer which is why a digital rectal examination also needs to be done.
Digital Rectal Examination (DRE)
This is a simple test that takes a minute or two. The examining doctor inserts a gloved and lubricated finger into the rectum so that she/he can feel the prostate for any abnormal lumps, hardening or other signs of prostate cancer.
Based on the results of the screening tests patients may be referred to a urologist for further investigation. If prostate cancer is suspected, the urologist will perform a prostate biopsy. This involves inserting a needle into different parts of the prostate in order to obtain a sample of the prostate tissue.
The tissue is sent to a laboratory where the cells are examined for cancer.
About The Prostate Cancer Foundation of South Africa
The Prostate Cancer Foundation is an organisation led by a group of leading medical specialists who diagnose, treat and research prostate cancer. Our Patient Affairs Division is run by men who have been affected by prostate cancer. They offer support to newly diagnosed patients and their partners. They also help to create awareness about the importance of screening for the early detection of prostate cancer.
Telephone Office: 011-7911791
Patient Helpline: 084 2833987