PSA Test for Early Detection of Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer whose malignancy develops in the prostate (male sex gland) has similar symptoms with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) which is a benign prostate enlargement disease often found in elderly men. Because the symptoms are difficult to distinguish, a test is needed to detect them early as well to distinguish between prostate cancer and BPH.
The American Cancer Society recommends a prostate cancer screening to men of age 50 years or more. If there is a family history of prostate cancer, screening is recommended from the age of 40 years. The most common tests to detect prostate cancer are:
- Digital rectal (digital rectal examination or DRE)
DRE is conducted by a trained doctor by touching the prostate via rectum with a lubricated index finger. If during palpation a lump with irregular shape or a hardening section on the surface of the gland is found, prostate cancer might have developed.
- Prostate specific antigen (PSA) test
The PSA test is a blood test conducted by measuring the levels of total PSA.
PSA is a protein produced by the prostate, and serves as a diluent to the semen so that sperm is more fluidly. In normal condition, only a little amount of PSA might enter the bloodstream. When there is an inflammation or damage in the prostate tissue, the level of PSA in the blood elevates.
To distinguish whether or not the increased levels of total PSA are caused by prostate cancer, you are recommended to take a ratio test of free-PSA/total PSA, especially for those whose total PSA level is between 2.6-10 ng/ml.
- Transrectal ultrasound (TRUS) test
The DRE and TSA tests are the first-line tests to assess the risks of prostate cancer in a person. When the first-line screening shows abnormal results, the doctor will recommend a TRUS (transrectal ultrasound or transrectal USG) which is done by taking a biopsy specimen of prostate, which is the prostate tissue that will then be examined under a microscope to see whether or not it contains cancer cells.
Mandatory monitoring of prostate cancer
Prostate cancer screening as an early detection of prostate cancer should be conducted once in a year. For those diagnosed as having prostate cancer but with a tiny size and localized in the prostate gland and with no symptoms, the options for the therapy are watchful waiting or left without no medical treatment but cancer monitoring for the cancer is expected to grow very slowly.
In addition to provide appropriate treatment for the patients of prostate cancer, the doctor will also recommend a close monitoring such as regular PSA once every three months up to once in a year and also the bone CT Scan to determine the spread of the cancer and other symptoms such as more intense pain, weight loss, etc.