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Prostate cancer screenings

The prostate is a small gland in men. It is part of the male reproductive system. Prostate cancer tends to grow slowly compared with most other cancers. Cell changes may begin 10, 20, or even 30 years before a tumor gets big enough to cause symptoms. Eventually, cancer cells may spread (metastasize) throughout the body.

Who is at risk

  • Men who are 50 or older.
  • African-American.
  • Men whose fathers or brothers have had prostate cancer.
  • Eating a high-fat diet.


Tell your doctor if you have these urinary symptoms:

  • Have blood in your urine or semen.
  • Are passing urine more during the day.
  • Have an urgent need to pass urine.
  • Have less urine flow.
  • Feel burning when you pass urine.
  • Need to get up many times during the night to pass urine.

What you can do

  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Eat foods cooked in plant-based fats (like olive oil instead of butter).
  • Eat more vegetables.

Preventive service at no cost

Annual screening for the early detection of prostate cancer in men over the age of fifty (50) years and in men over the age of forty (40) years who are in high-risk categories.

Why screening is important

By the time symptoms appear, the cancer may already be advanced and started to spread.

What the screening is

There is no standard or routine screening test for prostate cancer. Tests to detect (find) prostate cancer that are being studied include the following:

  • Digital rectal exam - This exam checks for:
    • The size, firmness, and texture of the prostate
    • Any hard areas, lumps, or growth spreading beyond the prostate
    • Any pain caused by touching or pressing the prostate
  • Prostate-specific antigen test - PSA is a protein made by prostate cells. It is normally secreted into ducts in the prostate, where it helps make semen, but sometimes it leaks into the blood. When PSA is in the blood, it can be measured with a blood test.
  • PSA Test (English) (en Espanol)


Your doctor may use PSA readings over time as a guide to see if more follow-up is needed. If your symptoms or test results suggest prostate cancer, your doctor will refer you to a specialist (a urologist) for a prostate biopsy.

Additional tips

Because prostate cancer often grows slowly, men without symptoms of prostate cancer who do not have a 10-year life expectancy should not be offered testing since they are not likely to benefit. Overall health status, and not age alone, is important when making decisions about screening.