Every year in the United States nearly 250,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer. This can be an extremely daunting time for them and their loved ones. However, an early diagnosis can have a huge impact on your treatment plan and chances of survival.
An early diagnosis can put your 5-year survival rate at more than 99%! However, as the American cancer society will tell you, this is only possible if you get tested.
So how do you get a prostate cancer test, and what does this involve? If you are concerned about getting a PSA test, read on to find out more!
What is Prostate Cancer?
Your prostate is an integral part of your body's reproductive system and produces the seminal fluid that transports sperm. It is a small gland that sits just below your bladder and in front of your rectum.
Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in America and affects this small gland. To begin with, most people will not notice it because symptoms can take a while to show up. Prostate cancer is a condition characterized by the uncontrolled growth of cells around and in the prostate gland. This is the organ responsible for producing prostate fluid, which makes part (70%) of semen produced in the testes. This type of cancer affects cells responsible for generating the prostate fluid- hence known as adenocarcinomas.
While most types of prostate cancer are slow-growing, some types grow and spread at a faster rate, hence more dangerous. Slow-Growing cancer does not, however, pose a significant risk to most men. Many older men, and even some younger ones, who died of other causes, also had slow-growing prostate cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Most of these men had no idea they had prostate cancer in the first place.
However, over time it can have a huge effect on your reproductive system. It can also alter the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level in your blood. Without treatment, this cancer can spread and become fatal.
So why do some men develop prostate cancer?
What are the Causes of and Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer?
There can be several different things that cause prostate cancer. Changes to your DNA as you age can increase your likelihood of developing it. This is why prostate cancer is especially common in men over the age of 60.
Your diet can also affect your likelihood of developing prostate cancer. Fatty foods stimulate hormones that support the growth of prostate cancer. So, watching what you eat can help protect your prostate.
You may also have a higher chance of developing prostate cancer if you:
- Have a family history of it
- Are overweight or obese
- Are a smoker
- Have a high calcium intake
- Are of black ethnic origins
- Are over the age of 50
Even if you do not fall into any of these categories, it is a good idea to check your prostate regularly, especially as you get older.
Signs and Symptoms of Prostate Cancer
It is not always possible to spot cancer affecting your prostate gland immediately. However, as prostate cancer develops, you will start to notice more symptoms. These can include:
- Having to urinate more frequently
- Difficulty emptying your bladder or weak urine flow
- The urge to urinate more frequently at night
- Blood in your urine
- Erectile dysfunction (that is newly onset)
- Pain when urinating
- Discomfort when sitting
If your cancer has spread, you may also experience pain across your back, hips, or thighs. You may also lose a lot of weight and find that you're more tired than usual.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is a good idea to get a prostate cancer screening as soon as possible. There are several ways to do this.
PSA Lab Test for Prostate Cancer
A PSA test is a type of blood test that checks the amount of PSA in your blood. PSA, or Prostate-Specific Antigen, is a type of protein that your prostate gland produces. Even when you are healthy, some PSA leaks into your bloodstream.
- Total Prostate Specific Antigen – The tests are done to detect and monitor prostate cancer. The health expert must evaluate tests based on the volume of the patient’s prostate and PSA levels in the blood.
- Free PSA – There are two types of PSA in the blood: free PSA (fPSA), which isn’t bound, and complexed PSA (cPSA), which is linked to other proteins. Health experts test for fPSA to determine the need for biopsy to be done. The biopsy can only be done when the total PSA is slightly elevated. Most men with BPH will have higher levels of fPSA, while those with prostate cancer will have relatively lower amounts of the same. Low levels of fPSA increase the risk of cancer despite normal PSA levels.
A raised PSA result can be a useful way of detecting prostate cancer. This is a quick way to spot early-stage prostate cancer. However, if your PSA is raised, it is also a good idea to get some further prostate cancer tests.
Lab tests come in handy in detecting prostate cancer, and ruling out health conditions/ailments that may make the situation worse. The tests can also be used to monitor and determine the effectiveness of the current mode of treatment.
A digital rectal examination (DRE) helps your doctor check your prostate. Because your prostate cannot be seen directly, your doctor inserts a gloved lubricated finger into your rectum to feel your prostate and check for enlargement.
If you or your doctor is concerned about your prostate, your doctor may recommend a prostate biopsy. This involves taking a small tissue sample from your prostate using a thin needle. Your doctor will then examine these under a microscope to check for cancer cells.
General Lab Tests
Additional tests may be required to ascertain the likelihood of prostate cancer, and to rule out possible other conditions with similar signs and symptoms. These include:
FAQs About the Prostate Cancer Test
Getting your prostate checked for the first time can be a daunting experience. To help, here are some common questions that people have about prostate cancer testing.
How Do You Prepare for a PSA Test?
To prepare for a PSA test, you should:
- Not ejaculate or exercise heavily within the 48 hours leading up to your test
- Ensure that you are clear of any urinary infections
- Make sure that it has been at least 6 weeks since your last prostate biopsy
Do PSA Tests Have Any Side Effects?
A PSA test is just like any routine blood test, so side effects are rare. If you are taking any medication you should speak to someone about this before having your blood tested. Some doctors may recommend pausing certain medication shortly before your test.
How Long Does It Take to Get a PSA Test Result Back?
Usually, it takes between one and two weeks to get your test result back from the lab if you go through your doctor. With Ulta Lab Tests, you will receive your test results in one to two days.
What Happens If Your PSA Level is Raised?
If you have a raised PSA level, this doesn't necessarily mean that you have prostate cancer. This can also be an indication that you have an enlarged benign prostate.
However, it is a good idea to speak to a doctor as soon as possible to investigate this further. You should do this even if your PSA is normal but, you still have symptoms of prostate cancer. That way, if it is cancer, you can start your prostate cancer treatment early.
Get Your Prostate Checked Today
When it comes to getting a prostate cancer test you shouldn't wait around. Ulta Lab Tests offer extremely accurate and reliable testing so that you can make informed decisions about your health.
Our service provides secure and confidential results, and you don't need insurance or a medical referral. We are committed to providing affordable testing (which includes the doctor's order) and delivering a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
Order your PSA test today, and your results will be provided to you securely and confidentially online in 24 to 48 hours. Take charge of your health and track your PSA test progress with Ulta Lab Tests today.