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Prostate Cancer Screening Options

Review national guidelines for cancer screening and prevention; this information is listed by gene mutation and by cancer type.

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Glossary on

Cancer Screening Options

Types of screening

Screening for  cancer may include a combination of the following:

  •  Specific Antigen () is a blood test used to screen for  cancer. 
  • Digital rectal exam (DRE) involves the doctor inserting a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to feel the  gland for enlargement or lumps.
  • Clinical trials are looking at  screening using imaging. 

Benefits and harms of screening

There are benefits and potential harms associated with  cancer screening.

  • Most  cancers can be very slow growing and unlikely to spread or cause harm. Detecting and treating these slow-growing  cancers early may not improve health outcomes and side effects from biopsy or treatment may cause harm.
  • Some  cancers can be very aggressive, spreading to other organs and increasing the risk of death. Finding these cancers early through screening may help men live longer. These aggressive cancers are more common in:
    • Black people
    • people with inherited mutations in certain genes, including and 
    • people with a family history of young-onset or aggressive  cancer.

Other factors that affect the benefits and risks of  cancer include:

  • age
  • overall health 
  • lifetime risk for  cancer
  • risk for developing aggressive disease
  • personal preferences

Several expert groups have guidelines for  cancer screening and each is slightly different. Most experts agree that people should have a discussion with their doctor about  cancer screening, that includes:

  • their risk for developing  cancer
  • their risk for developing aggressive disease
  • the benefits and harms of  cancer screening compared to not screening

Many experts feel that the benefits outweigh the harms, especially for people at high risk for aggressive cancer. 

When an abnormality is found

If the feels abnormal on DRE, or the is high or rising over time, doctors will usually order a biopsy of the . Doctors may also order imaging tests, such as or additional tests.

Last updated February 14, 2024