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Q. What is screening?

Screening is looking for cancer before a person has any symptoms. This can help find cancer at an early stage.

Q. Why do I need screening for Prostate Cancer? I do not have any urinary symptoms.

Microscopic evidence of prostate cancer is usually present in 30 to 40% of men over the age of 50 years, but only one-quarter of these cancers become clinically evident.

If one does not actively search for the cancer before symptoms begin (screen) then the vast majority of cancers detected at the time of diagnoses are incurable.

Screening for prostate cancer discovers the disease at an earlier and more curable stage. Patients usually have no symptoms at this stage.

Q. What is the scientific evidence supporting Screening for Prostate Cancer.

There are varied opinions about need and benefits of screening for prostate cancers. However, the latest scientific data from many countries has shown the benefits of screening for prostate cancer in the form of decrease in death rate and lowering the incidence of advanced cases. According to the latest European Randomized Study of Screening for Prostate Cancer (ERSPC) trial published in New England Journal of Medicine, Prostate cancer screening resulted in a relative reduction of 20% in prostate cancer specific mortality over a follow-up period of 9 years.

Q. Who should undergo screening?

Age 50-70 years
Age 40-70 if high risk (family history of prostate cancer)

Q. What does Screening for Prostate cancer involves?

Screening involves the use of a blood test (PSA-Prostate Specific antigen) and the use of a rectal examination (DRE) to examine the prostate. The combinations of these two tests pick up the vast majority of prostate cancers.

Digital rectal examination or DRE is an exam whereby a doctor inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into the rectum and feels for anything that is not normal.

Q. What is PSA?

PSA or Prostate-specific antigen test is a test that measures the level of PSA in the blood. PSA is a protein made mostly by the prostate and may be found in an increased amount in the blood of men who have prostate cancer.

Q. How frequently is the test needed?

In the absence of any symptoms screening should be carried out once a year. The blood test can be combined with annual health checkup.

Q. What if the screening test result is abnormal.

If a screening test result is abnormal, you may need to have more tests done to find out if you have cancer. These are called diagnostic tests.

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