Medical screenings are one of the best ways to stay healthy, but, if we’re honest, a lot of people are not interested in preventive health screening or disease screening in large part because they don’t know what’s going to happen when they go. If you been putting off an important preventive screening because of worries about the process, understanding how things will work when you get there can make it a lot easier to call and set up that appointment. Prostate cancer screening tests are one of the most important ways that men can take charge of their health and future, and here’s what you need to know about who needs prostate cancer screening tests and what happens when they are performed.

Who Needs Them and Why?

The prostate is an important component in the male reproductive system, so it is only men who require prostate cancer screening tests. About one man in every nine will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, and at this time there is no known way to prevent the disease. This means that the wisest course for any man is early diagnosis and treatment. The CDC and other bodies recommend that all men over the age of 50 get prostate cancer screening tests, and any man older than 40 who is at high risk of developing prostate cancer should get the tests as well. High-risk individuals are those who have a close relative who developed prostate cancer before the age of 65.

What Tests Are Available?

There are currently two major prostate cancer screening tests. One is the prostate-specific antigen test (PSA) and the other is the digital rectal exam (DRE). Neither of these tests is able to absolutely confirm the presence of prostate cancer, but they can both reveal signs that cancer is possible or that there is some type of problem with the prostate that requires a prostate biopsy. It is possible to get just one of the tests done, or to have them done in conjunction

What Happens in A PSA Test?

This test is quite simple and requires a blood sample. The blood is then measured for the presence of PSA, a protein that is made by the prostate. A PRA test cannot be performed on anyone with the urine infection, who has exercised heavily in the previous two days, who has ejaculated in the previous two days, or who has had a prostate biopsy within six weeks of the PSA test. The higher the levels of PSA in the blood, the more likely it is that there is some kind of prostate problem. The test typically takes two weeks to complete, and if PSA levels are normal then nothing more needs to be done unless a man wishes to have further testing to be safe. This may be the case for some with close relatives who were diagnosed with prostate cancer early in life.

What Happens in a DRE Test?

The test is not painful and is done in just a few moments. First, a healthcare professional will ask for consent and inquire about the presence of hemorrhoids or anal fissures that could be worsened by certain prostate cancer screening tests. During the exam itself, a specialist will insert a gloved and lubricated finger into the rectum to feel the prostate for bumps or other abnormalities that could indicate a problem with the gland. The test is over at that point and results are available instantly. If the specialist finds anything to be concerned about, more tests will likely be recommended.

Getting regular prostate cancer screening tests is not only an important way of taking charge of your health and future; it’s also an important way of protecting your loved ones. The tests are simple and quick, and the best way to deal with prostate cancer is to find and treat it early. Look into disease screening facilities near you where you can get this and other important tests.