The prostate is a gland located between the bladder and penis. It produces about 25 percent of the fluid that comes out in ejaculate, making it more alkaline.
A prostate exam is a test to screen for prostate cancer. A PSA test measures prostate-specific antigens, a substance produced by the prostate gland. Elevated PSA levels may indicate prostate cancer or a noncancerous condition such as prostatitis, or an enlarged prostate.
Screening for prostate cancer includes a blood test called a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test and a digital rectal exam (DRE), whereby a physician inserts his or her gloved, lubricated finger into the patient's rectum and palpates the prostate gland and surrounding tissue.
Ultrasonography of the prostate is performed in some situations to look for abnormal areas of the gland.
The goal is to detect cancer early, when treatment is most successful. The Cleveland Clinic recommends an annual prostate exam beginning at age 45. They recommend a prostate exam accompanied by a PSA blood test for the following:
• All men beginning at age 50
• African-American men beginning at age 40
• Men with a family history of prostate cancer, beginning at age 40 (or younger, if recommended by a doctor)
• Men who develop persistent urinary symptoms
Urologist Dr. S. Adam Ramin shares pointers on prostate cancer risk factors, screenings and treatments:
• Prostate cancer is a malignancy that originates within the prostate.
• It is the most common cancer in American men. More than 200,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year in the United States, and about 40,000 men die of the disease every year.
• Risk factors for prostate cancer include a diet rich in fatty foods, family history of prostate or breast cancer and older age. Risk of prostate cancer is lower in Asian countries than in the U.S., presumably due to Asian diets being rich in bioflavanoids, which are thought to help inhibit the growth of cancerous cells.
• Diagnosis of prostate cancer requires performing a biopsy of the prostate with the guide of an ultrasound probe placed in the rectum.
• Treatment of prostate cancer depends on the physiologic age and health of the patient, the degree of aggressiveness (Gleason Score) of the cancer and the stage of the cancer.
•Treatment options for prostate cancer include active surveillance, hormone therapy, cyrotherapy, various types of radiation therapy, open prostatectomy, robotic assisted laparoscopic prostatectomy and chemotherapy. Only after a careful evaluation and discussion between a physician specializing in prostate cancer and the patient, should the patient decide on the proper course of therapy for his prostate cancer.