Screening and Diagnosis

Prostate cancer can be cured if detected and treated early. It is recommended that men at 50 with no family history of prostate cancer and men at 40 with a family history, should seek annual assessments or screening in the form of a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test together with a Digital Rectal Examination (DRE).

The commonly quoted range for normal PSA is 0 to 4. In the range 4 to 10, only 25% of men will have cancer detected on biopsies. If the PSA is over 10, greater than 50% of men will have cancer. Around 25% of cancers detected in a screening program will have a PSA of less than 4. The cancers in these patients will only be picked up by a finger examination of the prostate (DRE) so it is important to have both the PSA test and the rectal examinations.

Around 15% of all men between the ages of 50 and 70 who are screened for prostate cancer will have an elevated PSA or abnormal DRE. If the DRE is abnormal or the PSA raised, a biopsy should take place.

Diagnosis of prostate cancer is made by an ultrasound guided needle biopsy of the prostate.

If one does not actively search for the cancer before symptoms begin then the vast majority of cancers detected at the time of diagnoses are incurable. Screening is the process to find cancer at an early potentially curable stage before symptoms have commenced.