An American man dies from prostate cancer every 15 minutes
Prostate Cancer Detection
Veterans Prostate Cancer Awareness (VPCa) is dedicated to saving lives by promoting prostate cancer awareness, early detection, and providing solutions among Veterans, active-duty military, and all men.
Early Prostate Cancer Detection
One of the best ways to detect prostate cancer in the early stages is screenings, but there is no single test to detect prostate cancer. The two most common tests are the prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test and the digital rectal examination (DRE).
The PSA test measures the level of PSA in your blood. It does not specifically test for cancer. Virtually all PSA is produced by the prostate gland. The normal range depends on your age. A PSA above the typical range may indicate the possibility of prostate cancer. However, two-thirds of cases of elevated PSA are due to noncancerous conditions such as prostatitis and BPH.
A DRE is generally conducted by a urologist to feel the prostate. While DRE is no longer recommended as a routine test for men who do not have symptoms of prostate cancer, it may be used to check for any changes in the prostate before doing a biopsy.
If either of these tests suggest an abnormality, other tests are necessary to confirm a diagnosis of prostate cancer, usually a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan and transrectal ultrasound (TRUS) biopsy.
Early Stages and Symptoms
In its early stages, prostate cancer may not show any symptoms. Symptoms of early prostate cancer can include:
- difficulty passing urine
- a slow, interrupted flow of urine
- frequent passing of urine, including at night
Symptoms associated with advanced prostate cancer include:
- blood in urine
- pain during urination
- lower back or pelvic pain.
These symptoms are also found in men who may have benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a common, non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate gland.
What's Your Number?
PSA screening has yielded a dramatic transformation in how prostate cancer patients present — meaning, the status of their disease when they first get the diagnosis. More men begin care with early-stage and potentially curable disease.
The PSA test is a blood test that measures a protein released in the blood by prostate cells. The higher a man’s total PSA level, the more likely he is to have prostate cancer. A few things to keep in mind about this test:
- Both normal and cancerous prostate cells secrete the protein.
- Elevated PSA levels are usually caused by noncancerous conditions, such as benign prostatic hyperplasia or prostatitis.
- Some men who have prostate cancer do not have elevated PSA.
- Men younger than 60 — total PSA of 2.5 ng/mL or lower
- Men 60 or older — total PSA of 4.0 ng/mL or lower
Prostate cancer specialists recommend the following:
- Men under 40 — PSA screening are not recommended for men at average risk.
- Men 40 to 54 — PSA screening are not recommended for men at average risk.
- Men 55 to 69 — PSA screening may be right for you. Talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits.
- Men 70 or older — PSA screening are generally not recommended, but older men who are in excellent health may benefit from screening.
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