Prostate Problem Guide
10 Commonly Asked Prostate Cancer Questions
Question 6. Is it possible to be screened for prostate cancer?
Two commonly performed tests are used to detect the presence of prostate cancer. Neither test is a definitive test for prostate cancer, but both can indicate problems developing with the prostate gland and point to the need for more specific testing.
These two tests are the digital rectal exam (DRE), in which a doctor uses a gloved finger to feel the prostate through the rectum looking for hard or lumpy areas, and a blood test used to detect the presence of a substance called prostate specific antigen (PSA), which is produced by the prostate gland.
Question 7. How reliable are screening tests?
Neither test is perfect and the DRE can easily miss prostate cancers and men with prostate cancer can show normal levels of PSA in the blood.
Used together, the two tests can produce reasonable results and are certainly better than not screening for prostate cancer at all, but more accurate screening is needed and studies are underway to improve the screening process.
Question 8. How is prostate cancer diagnosed?
The only way to confirm the presence of prostate cancer is through a prostate biopsy which removes a number of small samples of tissue from the prostate gland for microscopic examination.
Question 9. How is prostate cancer treated?
As long as cancer is confined to the prostate gland there are at present three main forms of treatment available.
The first is to watch and wait. In older patients who may be suffering from other medical problems it is often felt best to leave prostate cancer untreated as long as it remains confined to the prostate gland.
The second type of treatment is radiation therapy delivered either using traditional radiotherapy equipment on an outpatient basis, or by implanting radioactive seeds directly into the prostate gland.
Prostate cancer can also be treated by removing the prostate gland surgically.
Question 10. What is the best treatment for prostate cancer?
There is no simple answer to this question and each individual needs to carefully consider the options available and to discuss these with both his family and his doctor.
There is rarely any need to rush into treatment as most prostate cancers are slow to develop. Time should be taken therefore to collect as much information as possible and to make a decision based upon the information to hand, the advice given and personal preference.