Age for Prostate Screening: Am I Too Young?

The age for prostate cancer screening has become a controversial topic among the medical community. Some experts claim that regular screening offers men more treatment options with fewer side effects, while others believe that because prostate tumors grow slowly, the side effects far outweigh any benefit to early detection of the tumor.

Age for Prostate Cancer Screening

When to begin screening for prostate cancer is based on each man’s individual risk. The majority of medical professionals believe that men should begin screenings at age 50 as long as they do not have risk factors that could make them more susceptible to prostate cancer. For men with a high risk of the disease, which include African-Americans, smokers or those with a family history of prostate cancer, experts recommend that the age for beginning prostate cancer screenings should occur between 40 to 45.

For men with average risk, such as those with unhealthy diets or who are overweight but have no family history of the disease, experts recommend a blood test to detect prostate-antigen antibody (PSA). A test with results showing high levels of PSA may indicate prostate cancer. One of the most important aspects of getting a PSA is to obtain a baseline. Men with a low PSA, below 0.6, have a significantly lower risk of developing prostate cancer in the next 15 years. As a result these men can be followed at longer intervals, every few years, as opposed to men with a higher PSA who will need closer follow-up to ensure that if these men do develop prostate cancer, it is found in the very early stages.

Stopping Screening

Another controversial subject regarding the age for prostate cancer screening is, ‘When should doctors stop screening for the disease?’ Some experts believe that after the age of 75, screening is no longer necessary, while others believe that stopping such screenings must be based on each patient, his health status, lifestyle and family history.

Screenings and Biopsy

Once someone reaches the age where prostate cancer screening is indicated, the results may lead the doctor to perform a biopsy. The biopsy consists of a tiny portion of the prostate being removed and this tissue viewed microscopically to determine if cancer cells exist. Normally, a biopsy is performed after the screening reveals a risk that cancer may be present, including a high PSA and/or a lower percent free PSA. Additionally, the biopsy will also be recommended when indicated as a result of a questionable digital examination.

For more information regarding the age of prostate screening or the early signs of prostate cancer, feel free to visit us at USMD Prostate Cancer Center.

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