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Updated Guidelines for Prostate Cancer Screening

Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in men, but with early detection it is also one of the most treatable. “When diagnosed at an early stage, prostate cancer is highly treatable,” explains Dr. Mark Jackson of Washington Regional’s Ozark Urology Clinic. “Prostate cancer has few symptoms, however, so early detection depends on appropriate screening, at the appropriate age.”

What is PSA Screening?

For many years, screening for cancer of the prostate — which is a small gland located below the bladder in men — typically involved a physical exam and a blood test to measure prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels. PSA is a protein produced by the cells of the prostate. Because cancerous cells tend to produce more PSA, a high PSA level can indicate a problem. But some benign conditions can also cause elevated PSA, and this screening had sometimes led to overdiagnosis and overtreatment of conditions that weren’t dangerous. In 2012 the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended against routine screening with PSA testing.

According to a January 2023 report from the American Cancer Society, however, the lack of PSA testing means many cases of prostate cancer aren’t being found at an early stage, when they are most treatable. As a result, in the past 10 years the proportion of prostate cancers diagnosed at an advanced stage — when they are harder to treat — has more than doubled. Overall, the report showed a 3% increase in the incidence of prostate cancer.

“The advantage of PSA testing is that it can find cancer when it is confined to the prostate and has not spread,” Jackson says. “In this early stage, it requires much less intensive treatment.” In its report, the American Cancer Society credits PSA testing with lowering men’s risk of dying from prostate cancer by 53% from 1993 through 2020.

Talk With Your Health Care Provider About Screening

“It’s important to talk to your health care provider about when you should be screened for prostate cancer, based on your age and personal risk factors, and what kind of screening is right for you,” Jackson says. The American Cancer Society recommends these specific ages for having the screening conversation with your health care provider:

  • By age 50: Men who are at average risk for developing prostate cancer
  • By age 45: Men with African ancestry or a family history of prostate cancer or cancers caused by BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations
  • By age 40: Men who have a father or more than one brother (known as first-degree relatives) who had prostate cancer

Improved Prostate Imaging With Artemis MRI

If you are screened for prostate cancer, your health care provider will evaluate your physical exam and PSA results and recommend any additional tests you may need. One of the most common diagnostic tests for prostate cancer is ultrasound. However, not all prostate cancers can be found with ultrasound alone. To provide more targeted detection of prostate cancer, Washington Regional offers the Artemis MRI fusion guided biopsy system, which integrates traditional biopsy methods with technologically advanced imaging. The Artemis system merges an MRI image with an ultrasound image, allowing doctors to better identify tumors within the prostate and take very specific, targeted biopsies of those areas.

“The Artemis system allows us to better identify and more accurately biopsy suspicious prostate cancer areas,” Jackson says. “We are proud to offer this groundbreaking and potentially lifesaving technology at Washington Regional. The fusion prostate biopsy system provides patients with improved diagnosis and accuracy in the detection and treatment of prostate cancer.”

Additional Men’s Health Services

In addition to offering advanced diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer, the Ozark Urology team specializes in additional men’s health concerns such as:

  • Benign prostate problems such as enlarged prostate
  • Age-related hormonal changes
  • Lack of energy
  • Testosterone level
  • Intimacy problems
  • Testicular cancer

To make an appointment or to learn more about Washington Regional’s Ozark Urology Clinic, call 479.404.1100 or click here.