DETECTION-TESTING

Early detection is such an important aspect of ensuring that the prostate cancer can be cured. The majority of the 2,600 deaths a year from prostate cancer occur when prostate cancer is discovered too late and has begun to spread to other parts of the body.

For that reason, testing is essential from when men turn 50 years of age and even 40 years of age if prostate cancer is prevalent in the family. There is no doubt that testing and early detection with appropriate treatment will save lives and research figures reveals that with recent screening and PSA testing, recent death rates for the disease have shown a significant decline.

There are two tests available to detect prostate cancer:
1. The Prostate Specific Antigen blood test (PSA)
2. The Digital Rectal Examination (DRE)
Both tests have their advantages but it is suggested that PSA testing be undertaken annually and the DRE at least once every two years or what your doctor recommends.

Either test does not necessarily diagnose prostate cancer but will reveal irregularities in which case your doctor will refer you to a urologist for a biopsy. Many urologists recommend both tests in detecting abnormalities that may lead to prostate cancer. The biopsy is the only way to identify prostate cancer.

1. PSA Blood Test
The blood test seeks protein that is produced by prostate cells. Relative small quantities of protein can be released into the blood stream, and men can have readings of up to 4 nanograms per millilitre. Higher readings may indicate a prostate problem (5 to 10 nanograms) while readings above 10 may indicate that prostate cancer is present.

The PSA test results need to be examined by an experienced doctor. In some cases the doctors may seek additional tests to monitor the level or may wish to undertake at Digital Rectal Examination. PSA testing increases the chance of detecting prostate cancer at a curable age.

•  Digital Rectal Examination
Your doctor will insert a gloved finger into your anus and feel the surface of the prostate. The doctor will be looking for irregularities such as hardening of the prostate; swelling of the prostate, or lumps on the surface that may indicate a tumour has developed.

This test has been utilised for many decades but a weakness of the test is that the doctor can feel just part of the prostate and by the time that he has felt the irregularity, it could have already have spread beyond the gland.
If cancer is found in the prostate, it is important to determine the extent of the cancer so that the best treatment option can be pursued. The treatment of prostate cancer depends on a number of factors including age, general health and the stage of the tumour.