Routine Screening for Men

The major screening that is uniquely for men revolves around the prostate.  Two things happen to a man’s prostate: it always enlarges and it occasionally becomes cancerous. 

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)

Every man’s prostate will enlarge, though not all men will experience symptoms due to this.  Common symptoms include a reduction in the power of the urinary stream, a need to wake up at night to urinate (more than once or twice), and a sudden urge to urinate.  This is a benign process which does not always need to be treated. 


Prostate Cancer

The bad news is that if a man lives long enough, he is very likely to develop prostate cancer.  The good news is that most of the time, especially in much older men, this cancer is very slow growing and non-aggressive.  The problem is that it is hard to tell how aggressive the cancer is without invasive testing.  An aggressive prostate cancer that is left untreated will often spread and can be fatal.


Recommended Screening

All men over 40:

  • annual prostate examination

All men over 50:

  • annual PSA (prostate specific antigen) blood test and examination

With the combination of these two tests, the vast majority of prostate cancers can be picked up while still very localized and easily treated.


For men with a close relative (father or brother) with prostate cancer and African American men, this screening should begin at age 45.

There is some recent data suggesting that it may not be beneficial to screen for prostate cancer at all.  In our practice we recommend screening from age 45-50 until age 75.  Hopefully in the next several years we will have more accurate screening for prostate cancer. 


For younger men

It recommended for men age over 18 should regularly (ideally every month) do testicular self exam.  A normal testicle should feel like a hard boiled egg.  Any lump with the tissue of the testicle should be examined by a physician.


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