About one in every six men will develop prostate cancer which, apart from skin cancer, is the number one cause of cancer deaths in men. For this reason it is vitally important for men to monitor the health of their prostate with regular testing. Some of the prostate health tests available today include:
The Digital Rectal Exam (DRE). The digital rectal exam has been the benchmark of testing for both benign prostate enlargement and prostate cancer for many years and is a simple examination in which your physician can feel the prostate gland with a gloved finger to assess its size and condition.
The Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) Test. The PSA blood test was approved for use by the FDA in the mid 1980s and is now widely in use. This test looks for the presence of a prostate specific protein in the blood and it is recommended that all men over the age of 50, together with ‘at risk’ men over the age of 40, have an annual PSA test.
Urine Testing. Urine testing can not only check for diabetes and liver and kidney disease but can also check the condition of the prostate by looking for signs of infection in the blood.
Hyperplasia Intrvenouspyelogram (IVP). This test is a form of x-ray examination in which a dye is injected into the bloodstream and monitored as it passes through the body’s vital organs. As far as the prostate is concerned this test follows the flow through the kidneys, bladder and ureter tubes which drain the kidneys and thus looks for any possible restriction caused by an enlargement of the prostrate gland interfering with the flow or urine out of the bladder.
Bladder Ultrasound. This simple non-invasive procedure which can be carried out in the doctor’s office can detect whether or not the bladder is emptying fully following urination and thus whether or not an enlarged prostate is narrowing the urethra.
Prostate Ultrasound. A prostate ultrasound is useful for estimating the size of the prostate gland and is also important if further testing using a biopsy is recommended.
Uroflow. A uroflow is another very simple test in which the patient urinates into a container and the strength of the flow of urine is measured.
Cystoscopy. A cystoscopy allows the doctor to make a visual examination of the urethra and the bladder using an instrument which is inserted through the urethra.
In general your doctor will normally recommend PSA screening and will also usually carry out a digital rectal examination as these two tests together are without doubt the best way to detect the presence of possible prostate cancer or of other developing prostate problems. One or more or the other tests mentioned here (or indeed several which we have not listed) may also be ordered but, at the end of the day, the only sure way to confirm the presence of prostate cancer is by carrying out a biopsy.
A prostate cancer biopsy take a number of very small tissue samples from different areas of the prostate for microscopic examination and can not only definitively confirm the presence of prostate cancer, but can also give an indication of the size and type of any cancer.