Testing Event Tips
If you can afford to be testing by your personal physician or urologist, it is best that you stick with a doctor who knows your medical history and risk factors rather than participate in a free screening. However, we believe no man should be without the option to be tested, and that’s why Los Padres provides free prostate testing opportunities. We provide PSAs and DREs on site and utilize a Prostate Cancer Risk calculator as a guide for risk assessment. Please note that the Prostate Cancer Risk Calculator cannot be 100% accurate at predicting the presence or absence of prostate cancer. It is designed to help calculate your risk, not give a definitive diagnosis. If you have doubts or questions about your health, you should always contact your primary care physician or hospital doctor, particularly if you have questions which arise from the use of the prostate cancer risk calculator.
No preparations required. Fasting or other prescreening preparations are not required.
Don’t be an early bird. Arrive about an hour after the testing event has started. You will definitely be seen, and the line will have decreased considerably, so you’ll only have to wait a few minutes, if at all.
What To Expect
A prostate cancer screening consists of two parts:
- A blood test known as a PSA test. A small amount of blood is drawn from the arm and sent to a laboratory to detect the level of Prostate Specific Antigen that is present. Generally, the higher the PSA level, the more likely it is that you have prostate cancer, but other noncancerous conditions can cause an increase in PSA too. Your urologist will use his or her expertise to interpret your results.
- A physical exam called a Digital Rectal Exam (DRE). A urologist inserts a gloved and lubricated finger into the rectum to feel the prostate gland. The doctor is checking for any abnormalities that may indicate prostate cancer. The rectal exam is very quick, only 5 or 7 seconds.
You’ll learn the results of the rectal exam immediately, but your doctor will need to wait until your PSA test is returned from the lab to give you a full picture of your risk for prostate cancer. Final results along with the Prostate Cancer Calculator interpretation will be mailed within 4 weeks of the testing.
Along with your medical and family history, the PSA and rectal exam together give you the best chances for detecting prostate cancer early, when it is most easily treated.
Although prostate cancer testing is simple and can be lifesaving, it’s not a perfect test. The PSA blood test often detects forms of the disease that are not aggressive enough to harm a man. Learning of these incidental findings may cause unnecessary anxiety or prompt a man to seek treatment when it is not required. If your testing results are suspicious, a urologist can guide you about whether further testing is needed and whether treatment is required.
Despite their limitations, the PSA and rectal exam together are still the best tools available to assess your risk for prostate cancer. Urologists feel strongly that, given the pros and cons of prostate screening, men and their physician should discuss whether to be tested based on their personal status and family medical history.
Should I Be Tested
Men over age 40 whose life expectancy is greater than 10 years should consider being tested for prostate cancer. This article explains the pros and cons of screening and provides tips to help you make your decision.
Most men are tested yearly; however, your doctor may suggest a shorter or longer interval, depending on your risk factors and prior results.