To Screen or Not to Screen: That is the Question Many Patients Ask When it Comes to Prostate Cancer

Over the past several years, there has been much discussion among physicians, as well as confusion among patients, regarding prostate screening guidelines. Medical associations and physicians alike have altered the screening recommendations for men, leaving many patients wondering what to do.

Chesapeake Urology’s Position on Prostate Cancer Screening

Chesapeake Urology recommends that a baseline PSA screening begins at age 40, with annual screenings beginning at age 50. If significant risk factors such as a strong family history or African American race are present, then annual screening should be considered on a regular basis after age 40.

As with all cancers, the urologists at Chesapeake Urology believe that the best chance for cure of prostate cancer starts with early diagnosis. Therefore, it is recommended that patients discuss prostate cancer screening with their primary care physician, and if any questions persist, consult a urologist.

Prostate Cancer – The Statistics

  • smiling manApproximately 30,000 men die from the disease every year, and many others experience urinary symptoms, bleeding, and/or bone pain from metastatic prostate cancer (cancer that has spread outside of the prostate).

  • The most proven test currently available for detecting early forms of prostate cancer is the PSA blood test. In fact, it is estimated that 40,000 to 50,000 men would die of prostate cancer every year if PSA screening was not in practice.

  • Men are most at risk for developing significant prostate cancer between the ages of 55-70 years.

No One-Size-Fits-All Answer to the Screening Question

Every patient is unique, and different factors may make men more or less at risk for significant prostate cancer. These factors include:

  • Race
  • Family history of prostate cancer
  • Other medical conditions
  • Age

 As with all cancers, the urologists at Chesapeake Urology believe that the best chance for cure starts with early diagnosis.

What Does Prostate Cancer Screening Entail?

Testing for prostate cancer involves a simple blood test and physical exam. Typically, a man’s primary care physician (PCP) does a prostate screening as a routine part of the yearly physical. (If a screening is not included, we advise requesting one starting at age 40.) Your PCP or urologist will also perform a screening if you are exhibiting any symptoms of prostate cancer. Symptoms from prostate cancer often do not appear until the disease has progressed to a more advanced stage, which is why regular PSA screening is so essential.

Doctors test for prostate cancer in two ways:

  • Digital rectal exam (DRE)*: The physician places a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to feel for lumps, nodules and other abnormalities on the prostate gland.

    *It is recommended that the DRE be given in combination with the PSA blood test for best detection of early prostate cancer.
  • Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test: The PSA test is a routine blood screening that can be performed in a lab, hospital, at your doctor's office or even at one of Chesapeake Urology’s free prostate cancer screening events. The PSA test can detect high levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a protein produced by the prostate. Elevated levels of PSA are often, but not always, an early indicator of prostate cancer, as well as other disorders of the prostate. Learn how PSA levels are used.

We’re Here to Help

Chesapeake Urology’s prostate cancer care team encourages patients to be their own advocates. Understand your risk factors for prostate cancer as well as the recommended screening guidelines. Talk to your physician if you have any questions or concerns. When it comes to prostate cancer screening, diagnosis and treatment, our goal is to make sure each individual has the information needed to make the choice that is right for them. We’re here to help guide you through the process.

To find a Chesapeake Urology prostate cancer specialist, visit

To see the 2017 schedule of free prostate cancer screenings, visit

To learn more about Chesapeake Urology’s comprehensive prostate cancer care program, visit