There are many confusing reports around the screening of prostate cancer. Depending on which agency suggestions you go by, some say you should be screened starting at the age of 40 and others at 50. Some agencies like the CDC recommend against the use of prostate specific antigen (PSA) tests, while others like the American Cancer Society endorse it for early detection. That begs the question, "What do they agree on?"
All of them agree that screening for prostate cancer must start with a conversation with your doctor. The conversation should include questions like:
- Am I at a greater risk for prostate cancer?
- Should I start to think about screening for prostate cancer?
- What are the side effects or risks of a screening?
When should you have this conversation? You should at least broach the subject with your doctor if you are over the age of 45 or if you are experiencing any symptoms of prostate cancer. If you notice any of the following symptoms you definitely need to call your doctor and schedule an appointment to discuss screening options.
- Difficulty starting urination
- Weak or interrupted flow of urine
- Frequent urination, especially at night
- Difficulty emptying the bladder completely
- Pain or burning during urination
- Blood in the urine
- Pain in the back, hips, or pelvis that doesn’t go away
Even if you're not experiencing symptoms it's not a bad idea to have a conversation with your doctor about any risk factors that might increase your chances of being affected by prostate cancer.