Want to increase your chance of surviving prostate cancer? Get yourself tested! Though testing can bring with it a lot of anxiety and uncertainty, it is still important to get tested. Caught in its early stages, cancer of the prostate can be cured and treated with fewer side effects. However, if caught at a later stage, it can exert detrimental effects on the lives of patients and their families. So, it is crucial to understand the various tests available for testing of prostate cancer.
(1) Digital rectal exam (DRE)
Your doctor may inquire about any symptoms you are facing, like sexual or urinary problems. You may be interrogated about your family history of cancer. After this, DRE may be carried out. In this, a medical care professional inserts a gloved lubricated finger into the rectum for checking any lumps or hard areas on the prostate that may be cancerous.
If any abnormalities are noted in the shape, texture, or size of the gland, you may require additional tests.
(2) Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test
In this, the blood sample is drawn from a vein and measured for PSA levels. PSA is a protein naturally produced by prostate tissues (both normal and cancerous cells). The likelihood of suffering from prostate cancer increases as the PSA level spikes up. But, it may also be elevated in other conditions (like infection, inflammation) affecting the prostate gland.
(i) In men who may have prostate tumor
The PSA test is used majorly for screening prostate cancer in males with no noticeable symptoms.
- Most males without prostate tumor have PSA levels below 4 ng/mL of blood (though it does not guarantee the absence of cancer)
- Males having a PSA level between 4 and 10 have approximately 25% risk of cancer of the prostate.
- If the PSA level is greater than 10, the risk of prostate cancer is greater than 50%.
(ii) In males already diagnosed with prostate tumor
PSA test can also be valuable if you have already been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
- Can be used together with physical examination results and tumor grade (determined on biopsy) to aid in deciding if other tests are needed.
- Can help to ascertain the stage of cancer.
- Can tell how well the therapy is working.
- Help to watch for a possible recurrence of cancer after treatment.
(3) Prostate biopsy
In this, a thin, hollow needle is inserted into the prostate either through the skin between scrotum and anus (transperineal biopsy) or through the walls of the rectum (transrectal biopsy). Small pieces of tissue are removed for examination under a microscope.
Core needle biopsy is majorly used for diagnosing prostate cancer. On the basis of biopsy findings, a Gleason score is utilized for describing a tumor's aggressiveness.
(4) Imaging tests
In this, x-rays, magnetic fields, sound waves, or radioactive substances are used for creating pictures of the inside of your body to:
- Check for cancer in the prostate
- Help the doctor see the prostate during biopsy or certain types of prostate cancer therapy
- Ascertain the spread of prostate cancer to other parts of the body
The imaging tests most commonly used include transrectal ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging, bone scan, positron emission tomography scan, and computed tomography scan.
(5) Genetic testing
It is carried out to check whether you have a genetic mutation associated with cancer. It is indeed a powerful tool to understand the risk you and your family members face for developing prostate cancer.
Since prostate tumors might differ in their tendency to grow or spread, staging is vital in selecting the best therapies, assessing the recurrence risk, and the prognosis of the disease. Not every person needs to undergo every test. Your doctor will help to determine the best tests for you.
Also, explore Prevention tips to reduce prostate cancer risk