Prostate Cancer Screening (The James)

Prostate Cancer Screening

The prostate is a male sex gland, about the size of a walnut. It sits in front of your rectum and below your bladder. The prostate wraps around your urethra, the tube that carries urine away from your bladder. Problems with the prostate can be common as men get older. This may include prostate cancer.

You should talk with your doctor about the risk factors and signs and symptoms of prostate cancer. Your doctor can explain the special tests or exams used to check for early signs of prostate cancer. These tests are known as cancer screening. Screening can help find cancer early when it is easier to manage. Based on the results of your screening tests, your doctor may want to order more tests.

Signs and Symptoms of Prostate Cancer

Early prostate cancer often does not cause signs or symptoms. Some of the signs and symptoms of prostate cancer may include:

  • Urinating more often, especially at night
  • Problems starting to urinate or holding back urine
  • Not being able to urinate
  • Weak or interrupted flow of urine
  • Painful or burning urination
  • Painful ejaculation (release of semen through the penis during orgasm)
  • Blood in your urine or semen
  • Frequent pain or stiffness in your lower back, hips or upper thighs

If you have any of these symptoms or problems, call your doctor. An infected prostate may cause pain with urination. Non-cancerous (benign) tumors may squeeze and narrow your urethra. Only a doctor can tell whether or not your signs or symptoms are caused by prostate cancer


Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer

People who are at high risk should start screening early and have them more often. People at high risk include:

  • Men over age 50
  • Men who have close relatives (father and a brother) who have had prostate cancer
  • African-American men

Prostate Cancer Screening Guidelines

Screening for prostate cancer can help find cancer at an early stage. You and your doctor should talk about regular screening starting at age 50 or sooner if you have any risk factors.

Common Screening Tests

  • Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test

This blood test measures a substance called “prostate-specific antigen” or PSA. This is a protein made by your prostate. A high PSA level shows there may be a problem with your prostate. A high PSA level may be caused by cancer or could also be caused by other conditions.

  • Digital rectal examination (DRE)

During this exam, your doctor inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into your rectum to feel for any hard or lumpy areas in your prostate.


© May 15, 2018. The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute.

This handout is for informational purposes only. Talk with your doctor or health care team if you have any questions about your care.

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