Getting checked for prostate cancer

Checking for prostate cancer has several steps

The first step is a prostate check which usually means having a blood test and you may have a digital rectal examination. A check is quick and has no risk of side effects but can only tell you if there is a possibility that you already have prostate cancer. If the check shows there is possibility you have prostate cancer, a biopsy is the only way to find out for sure. However biopsies can have side effects including pain, bleeding and infection, although these are usually not serious and easily treated.

PSA test

Your doctor may offer to take a sample of your blood to measure the level of prostate-specific antigen (or PSA for short) which is made by your prostate. The PSA level in the blood is often higher in men with prostate cancer, although a high PSA level does not always mean you have prostate cancer.

Digital rectal examination

A digital rectal examination (or DRE for short) is where your doctor puts a gloved, lubricated finger into your rectum to feel for any lumps or hard areas on your prostate that might be cancer. You can choose not to have a DRE.

What happens if the prostate check is normal?

Your doctor will record the results in your health record and will give you the option for a new check every 2-4 years. If your father or a brother has had prostate cancer then you should have a prostate check every 12 months.

What happens if the prostate check shows a risk of prostate cancer?

If the result of your prostate check shows a risk of having prostate cancer you should be referred to a Urologist. The Urologist may offer you a test called a prostate biopsy. Learn more about prostate biopsy here.