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Why testing for prostate cancer is different from other cancers

Image of a manMost of the time, the earlier you find cancer, the better. Prostate cancer seems to be different. Prostate cancer can be detected using 2 tests – a PSA test and a digital rectal exam. But large, reliable studies haven’t been able to tell us clearly whether it’s a good thing to use these tests to look for prostate cancer before you have any symptoms. Research shows that the limitations of testing for prostate cancer may outweigh the benefits of screening men at average risk of developing prostate cancer. In other words – for the average guy who also doesn’t have any symptoms, there may be more cons than pros to getting tested for prostate cancer. There may still be some advantages to getting the PSA test, but it’s important for men to know the benefits and limitations before getting tested.

Our recommendation

We recommend that you talk to your doctor about your risk of prostate cancer and about the benefits and limitations of finding it early.

When is it time to talk to my doctor about prostate cancer?

Check in with your doctor if you:

  • will soon be 50 years old
  • are over 50 and haven’t talked about prostate cancer with your doctor yet
  • may be at a higher risk of developing prostate cancer because you have a family history or are of African ancestry

And of course, you should always talk to your doctor if you have symptoms of prostate cancer.


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