November marks Movember, an important time to educate yourself and the men in your life on the proactive steps that you can take to keeping your body healthy, including recommended screenings for prostate cancer and testicular cancer.
Cancer screening is a crucial part of maintaining your body's health. One in two men is diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, but regular screenings can detect cancer at early stages that, in turn, may make it easier to treat. Below you will find an overview of screening guidelines that apply to men, including information on colorectal cancer, lung cancer, and skin cancer.
While there are no standard or routine screening tests for prostate cancer, various types of prostate cancer screenings are currently being studied, including:
- Digital Rectal Exam (DRE): An internal physical examination of the prostate performed by inserting a lubricated glove finger into the rectum.
- Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Test: A blood test measuring the level of PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen). A higher level may indicate prostate cancer, an infection or inflammation of the prostate or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
- Prostate Cancer Gene 3 (PCA3) Test :A test measuring the amount of PCA3 present in the urine - the higher the level, the more likely that prostate cancer is present.
- TMPRSS2:ERG: A urine test that looks for an abnormal gene change in prostate cells collected after a DRE that are found in 50 percent of all localized prostate cancers, but rarely when prostate cancer is not present.
The age at which men should discuss with their healthcare providers the need for screening tests is based on an individual's risk level for developing prostate cancer:
- Average risk in men with no prostate cancer in their immediate family: Discuss screening at age 50.
- High risk in African Americans or those with a first-degree relative (father, brother or son) who was diagnosed with prostate cancer before age 65: Discuss screening at age 45.
- Very high risk in those with more than one first-degree relative who had prostate cancer before age 65: Discuss screening at age 40.
Males of any age can develop testicular cancer, from infants to the elderly. About half of all cases of testicular cancer are in men between the ages of 20 and 34, and Caucasian-American men are four to five times more likely to get testicular cancer than men of other races. Symptoms for testicular cancer can often be mistaken for other issues. Common symptoms include a painless lump on or in the testicle, a swollen testicle, a heavy or achy feeling in the lower belly or scrotum, breast growth or soreness, or signs of early puberty in adolescent boys. Lumps may be as small as a grain of rice or a tiny pea under the skin or deep within the scrotum. Routine testicular self-exams help you learn what is normal for your body and when something may seem different. If you have any concerns, talk with your doctor immediately.
If you are 45 and older, Sarah Cannon recommends a flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years or a colonoscopy every ten years. Dependent on your risk there are alternative tests. Be sure to consult with your physician for more information.
Sarah Cannon recommends a low-dose CT scan for people 55-74 who are current smokers or who have quit within the past 15 years and who have at least a 30 pack-year smoking history.
A 30 pack-year is equivalent to one pack a day for 30 years, or two packs a day for 15 years.
Starting at age 20, Sarah Cannon recommends full body skin self-exams and skin exams by your doctor. Those at high risk for skin cancer include those with reduced immunity, personal history of skin cancer and a strong family history of skin cancer.
Be sure to consult your physician on the best screening schedule for you, as he or she may recommend earlier or more frequent screening based on your personal or family history with cancer.
If you have questions on cancer screening, call askSARAH at (844) 482-4812 to speak to a nurse who is specially-trained to help with your cancer questions. Calls are confidential and nurses are available to speak 24/7.