North Dallas urologist, Dr. Mark Allen, recommends that all men over the age of 40 receive PSA testing periodically for prostate cancer screening, making it a part of their routine physical and annual check-up. The prostate is a small, walnut-sized structure that makes up part of a man’s reproductive system. It affects how a man obtains an erection, how he urinates, and it also helps to produce semen.
Prostate cancer is a malignant tumor that forms in the prostate gland. This particular cancer grows slowly and typically produces little symptoms until it progresses. Prostate cancer is the leading cancer for men in the United States with more than 230,000 men—almost 1 in 6—being diagnosed with the disease annually.
What is PSA?
PSA stands for prostate-specific antigen. This is a protein produced by the prostate tissue and it can be formed by both cancerous (malignant) and noncancerous cells. It is common for small amounts of PSA to enter the bloodstream normall. Because research shows that it’s the cancerous cells that make more PSA than the benign cells, this causes PSA levels to become elevated. Therefore, when a PSA test is given and the results show a higher than normal PSA level, it is usually a red flag for concern that usually leads to additional testing.
It’s important to understand that during routine physical exams, PSA tests are not always administered; most often, because prostate cancer is not viewed as a threat for young men under the age of 40. However, in recent years, it is becoming an increasingly more common diagnosis, thus, men must take control of their own health and request this PSA testing for prostate cancer screening during routine physicals.
Dr. Allen believes that education is power. It’s important to do your own research on prostate cancer, the symptoms and warning signs, and then understand the pros and cons to a having PSA test.
He offers this comparison chart from the Mayo Clinic: