Prostate Cancer Screening & Diagnostics

Early detection is key in successfully treating many cancers. Next to skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in men (1 in 6 men will get it). However, it can be slow growing and take years to develop.

Beginning at age 55, men at average risk (no family history) for developing prostate cancer should begin to discuss the pros and cons of screening with their doctor. Men at high risk for developing prostate cancer should begin discussing screening even sooner, around age 40.

The American Cancer Society recommends that men make an informed decision with their health care provider regarding the appropriateness of prostate cancer screening.

Digital Rectal Exam (DRE) and Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Blood Test
Typical prostate screenings include a DRE and a PSA blood test. The purpose of the rectal exam is to feel the prostate gland to determine if there is area of firmness.The PSA blood test looks for elevated proteins produced by the prostate.

A physician will look at the DRE and PSA results together to determine if there's a need for further testing. An elevated PSA alone does not always indicate cancer; many factors can affect PSA levels. Your doctor will recommend appropriate next steps for you.

Northside Hospital Cancer Institute offers prostate cancer screenings to the community several times a year. Download our current schedule or visit our Classes & Events calendar.

Signs and symptoms of prostate cancer.

Exams and Tests
If a biopsy is needed to tell if you have prostate cancer, a sample of tissue is removed from the prostate and sent to a lab.

Your doctor may recommend a prostate biopsy if:

  • You have high PSA level
  • A rectal exam shows a large prostate or a hard, uneven surface

The results are reported using what is called a Gleason grade and a Gleason score. The Gleason grade tells you how fast the cancer might spread. It grades tumors on a scale of 1 - 5. You may have different grades of cancer in one biopsy sample. The two main grades are added together. This gives you the Gleason score. The higher your Gleason score, the more likely the cancer is to have spread past the prostate:

  • Scores 2 - 5: Low-grade prostate cancer
  • Scores 6 - 7: Intermediate (or in the middle)- grade cancer. Most prostate cancers fall into this group.
  • Scores 8 - 10: High-grade cancer

The following tests may be done to determine whether the cancer has spread:

Imaging and Diagnostics
Northside’s vast network of convenient imaging centers offers a comprehensive array of advanced technology in a variety of subspecialties including oncology, women’s imaging and pediatric imaging. Locations are available across Georgia with extended hours to meet your needs. At each of our imaging centers you’ll find state-of-the-art technology and a dedicated team of board-certified radiologists and certified, compassionate technicians, who provide the highest level of customer service. See our complete list of Imaging Locations and services.

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