Prostate cancer

Updated 29 May 2015

Screening for early diagnosis

All healthy men over the age of 50 years should have annual prostate cancer checks. Black men and men with a positive family history should start at age 40.

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All healthy men over the age of 50 years should have annual prostate cancer checks. Black men and men with a positive family history should start at age 40.

The aim of screening is to diagnose the disease at an early stage while it is still potentially curable. By the time prostate cancer becomes symptomatic it is usually beyond cure.

The screening tests consist of a digital rectal examination and a PSA blood test. The prostate gland may feel entirely normal despite the presence of an early cancer.

The combination of PSA and digital rectal examination is more sensitive than either test alone. If one or both of these tests are abnormal a transrectal ultrasound and needle biopsies of the prostate gland are performed.

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