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Prostate Cancer Screening: Making Your Decision

Should you be screened for prostate cancer? Experts disagree. Below are some factors to think about as you make a decision.

Man and woman sitting together, talking.

Pros

  • Some experts believe that screening may prevent a small number of deaths from prostate cancer.

  • Some men want to know if they have prostate cancer. 

Cons

  • If a screening test is not normal, your health care provider may recommend a biopsy of the prostate gland. Some of the biopsies done based on the screening tests will be unnecessary. Doing a biopsy has risks, such as bleeding and infection.

  • Prostate cancers are often slow-growing. Many never become life-threatening and never need treatment. If you find out you have cancer, you may feel you need to treat it, even if it would never cause you any problems. Prostate cancer treatments have side effects that can affect quality of life, such as loss of control of urine (incontinence) and loss of ability to have sex (erectile dysfunction). In many cases, treating the cancer causes more problems than not treating it.

  • If you are an older man or if you have many other serious health problems, finding prostate cancer will not likely help you live longer. 

Weighing your options

Before making a decision about screening, talk to your health care provider. Ask any questions you have about testing. Talking to your partner, friends, or family members may also be helpful. Things to consider include:

  • Your age, overall health, and life expectancy.

  • Your feelings about treatment. If you found out that you had prostate cancer, would you want to have it treated?

Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 5/9/2014
Copyright © The StayWell Company, LLC. except where otherwise noted.
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