Early detection of prostate cancer
It is a well known fact that men are notoriously slow in visiting their doctors for health checks when they are otherwise fit and healthy. Women are fortunate to have a screening system in place for cervical cancer. At the moment this is not the case for men in the detection of prostate cancer.
These are the most upto date figures according to Cancer Research.
- In 2010-11 84% of men with prostate cancer survived 10 years following diagnosis
- In 2011 there were 41,736 new cases of prostate cancer diagnosed
- In 2012 there were 10,837 deaths from the disease.
Screening for prostate cancer
There is currently no national screening programme in the UK for prostate cancer although it is agreed screening for cancer is an important part of care. The aim of screening is to diagnose disease;
- At an early stage
- Before symptoms start
- When it is easier to treat
- When it is more likely to be curable
Before screening can be carried out, there must be an accurate test to use. At the moment, there is no single, effective screening test to accurately diagnose most early prostate cancers in men who don’t have symptoms.
PSA is a protein produced by both normal and cancerous prostate cells. A high level of PSA can be a sign of cancer. But your PSA level can also be raised in prostate conditions that are not cancer (are benign) or if you have an infection. To check for PSA (prostate specific antigen), your doctor takes a sample of your blood. Your doctor may want to rule out a urine infection before carrying out a test.
If you are worried that you may have prostate cancer, you can go and talk to your GP about the risks and benefits of having a PSA (prostate specific antigen) test.
The PSA test shows the amount in the blood of a protein produced by prostate cells. If the level of PSA is higher than normal it could be due to a prostate cancer. But there are other causes of raised PSA, such as infection, a non cancerous enlarged prostate and even exercise and sex. So if you have a raised PSA level you will need to have more medical tests to find the cause.