The Importance of Prostate Cancer Checks

by Derek Rogers - Date: 2010-05-08 - Word Count: 597 Share This!

Prostate cancer is currently the most common cancer among men in the UK. According the latest available figures around 34,000 people are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year, the vast majority of whom are elderly men.

Whilst it may be one of the most common forms of cancer, it is also one of the more treatable variants too. Over 70% of those diagnosed with prostate cancer will survive, with early detection being vital to chances of a full recovery. With 1 in 12 men affected by it at some point in their lifetime, regular prostate exams, particularly from retirement age onwards, are essential.

Prostate checks can be carried out in a number of ways. The first is a digital rectal examination (DRE), in which a doctor will check the prostate gland with their finger, ensuring there is no obvious sign of inflammation or hard lumps that could be a cancerous tumour. It is a straightforward procedure done for a number of other medical reasons in both men and women. The doctor wears a latex glove and uses plenty of lubrication in order to ensure that you have minimal discomfort during and after the examination.

Another method of detecting prostate cancer is a PSA blood test. This is used to pick up unusually high levels of prostate specific antigen (PSA) within your bloodstream. As levels of PSA vary widely across men, this is usually used as an indication of whether cancer is likely to be present in the subject. It is often performed in coordination with a rectal examination in order to get a more accurate understanding of the possible presence of prostate cancer.

Final clarification is often sought with a rectal biopsy. If during your rectal examination a hard lump that may have the characteristics a cancerous tumour, the doctor may well request a biopsy in order to get a blood sample and ascertain its severity. This is ordinarily done using transrectal ultrasound scanner, which provides a quick and largely pain-free examination. Bleeding may occur for a short time afterwards, but you should be prescribed antibiotics to counteract the chances of contracting a blood infection.

The PCA3 test is a relatively modern innovation that can help prevent unnecessary rectal biopsies. This simple urinary exam detects levels of PCA3 within your sample to establish the likelihood of cancer being present in your prostate. With PCA3 levels ordinarily up to 100 times higher in cancer affected samples, it provides a highly accurate method of testing without any undue discomfort.

Your doctor may well recommend doing a number of different tests in order to get a definitive answer. Whilst they may sound unpleasant and even a little daunting, they are an essential part of the diagnosis and ultimately the treatment of prostate cancer; therefore their importance cannot be overstated. Due to developments in the way prostate cancer is detected, mortality rates have been in steady decline for many years. Treatments also come on hugely in recent times, giving patients the opportunity to have the most effective surgery for their needs.

Prostate cancer needn't be something to fear, but it is a disease that all men need to be extremely aware of. Survival rates are extremely positive, therefore ensuring you catch it early is imperative to your own chances of making a complete recovery. There are genetic links with this form of cancer; therefore you need to be aware of any occurrences within your family, particularly amongst close members such as a brother. It is also far more common the older you get, so you really need to maintain regular checks to ensure you don't become another victim.

Derek Rogers is a freelance writer who writes for a number of UK businesses. He recommends Birmingham Prostate Clinic who specialise in Prostate Biopsy assessments.n
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