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.

Community Prostate Cancer Screenings

To help raise awareness of prostate cancer, we offer prostate cancer screenings throughout the year. Health care professionals screen adult men for symptoms of prostate cancer and offer PSA blood tests and DREs at no charge. A nurse navigator is available to help arrange follow up care, if indicated. 

Eligibility Requirements: 

  • Men between the ages of 40-75
  • No history of prostate cancer
  • Have not had a prostate exam within the last year
  • Uninsured (limited spaces available for those with insurance)

Northside Hospital’s prostate cancer screenings are free, but registration is requiredCall (404) 531-4444 to schedule an appointment. Qualified Spanish interpreters available on site.

Download our current schedule of prostate cancer screenings. (Spanish version) or visit our Classes & Events calendar.

Signs and symptoms of prostate cancer.

Other 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.


Northside Hospital - Atlanta

1000 Johnson Ferry Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30342
(404) 851-8000

Northside Hospital - Cherokee

201 Hospital Road
Canton, GA 30114
(770) 720-5100

Northside Hospital - Forsyth

1200 Northside Forsyth Drive
Cumming, GA 30041
(770) 844-3200

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