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Prostate Cancer

Prostate Cancer

The decision to screen is yours. 

The prostate is a gland in man's genital area that lies below the bladder and in front of the rectum. It surrounds the urethra, the tube that carries urine and semen through the penis and out of the body. The prostate makes fluid that forms part of semen. 

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men in Nevada, after skin cancer, and is the second leading cause of cancer death among men. Prostate cancer often has no early symptoms and many types are slow-growing. According to the National Cancer Institute, "Most men with prostate cancer are older than 65 years and do not die from the disease." However, some prostate cancers can grow and spread quickly.

The current method for screening for prostate cancer is the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening test. The PSA test measures the amount of PSA, a specific type of protein, in the blood. An elevated PSA level may be caused by prostate cancer, but it could also be caused by other conditions too. New genetic research is helping us to understand how prostate cancer develops, and additional studies are helping doctors to find more accurate screening and diagnosis methods.  

Screening Guideline
Ages 55-69 Age 70 and older

The decision to undergo periodic PSA–based screening for prostate cancer should be an individual one. Before deciding whether to be screened, men should have an opportunity to discuss the potential benefits and harms of screening with their clinician and to incorporate their values and preferences in the decision. Screening offers a small potential benefit of reducing the chance of death from prostate cancer in some men. However, many men will experience potential harms of screening, including false-positive results that require additional testing and possible prostate biopsy; overdiagnosis and overtreatment; and treatment complications, such as incontinence and erectile dysfunction. In determining whether screening is appropriate in individual cases, men should discuss with their health care provider the balance of benefits and harms on the basis of family history, race/ethnicity, other medical conditions, patient values about the benefits and harms of screening and treatment-specific outcomes, and other health needs. 

The US Preventive Services Task Force recommends against PSA-based screening for prostate cancer in men 70 years and older.

Is Prostate Cancer Screening Right for You? - Download this handout to discuss the potential benefits and risks of screening with your health care provider.

Learn more about prostate cancer in our quick Infographic.