- Posted by jdavis on August 31, 2011
Two initial tests are commonly used to look for prostate cancer in the absence of any symptoms. One is the digital rectal exam, in which a doctor feels the prostate through the rectum to find hard or lumpy areas known as nodules. The other is a blood test used to detect a substance made by the prostate called “prostate-specific antigen” (PSA). When used together, these tests can detect abnormalities that might suggest prostate cancer.
Neither of these initial tests for prostate cancer is perfect. Many men with a mildly elevated PSA do not have prostate cancer, and men with prostate cancer may have normal levels of PSA. Also, the digital rectal exam does not detect all prostate cancers.
The diagnosis can only be confirmed by examining prostate calls under a microscope. This is done by performing a biopsy in a urologist’s office. A small sample of tissue is taken from the prostate for testing and evaluation under a microscope.
Your doctor is likely to discuss your medical history with you. Answering questions about any history of genital or urinary disease in your family can help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis. Your doctor may also ask about any changes in your pattern of urinating.
Treatment for prostate cancer can include everything from “watchful waiting” to removal of the entire prostate gland. The route that you and your doctor choose is based on how large your tumor is, whether it has spread, and your personal preferences.
Five types of treatment options may be offered:
- Radiation and Radioactive Seed Implants
- Surgery to remove the prostate gland radical prostatectomy or laparoscopic surgery
- Hormone treatment to reduce the size of the tumor
- Surveillance (also called watchful waiting)
“Watchful waiting” is recommended for some patients, particularly those who are older or who have other life-threatening conditions. In these cases, the cancer may be growing so slowly that it’s not likely to be fatal.
Choosing a treatment option involves you, your family, and your doctor. Considerations include the grade and stage of the cancer, your age and health status, and the feelings you have about the risk and benefits of each treatment option.