The prostate is a small gland, typically the size of a walnut, responsible for producing seminal fluid. Starting around the age of 40, a prostate exam to screen for enlargement or signs of cancer is a part of your annual men's health checkup. If cells are showing signs of cancerous activity, it might be prostate cancer, and early detection makes beating it very likely.
By following the guidelines of the American Urological Association, the Urology of Greater Atlanta team screens for prostate cancer by your level of at-risk factors.
The PSA test measures the amount of prostate-specific antigens (PSA) in the blood; PSA is a protein produced by cancerous/noncancerous tissues in the prostate itself. Men that show a result of 10 or less after taking the PSA test are considered low risk.
Additionally, the Gleason scale is used to assess the appearance of cells and how likely they are to be cancerous within the prostate. The Gleason scale ranges from 1-10, with 10 being the most concerning. A score of six or less is considered low risk, but active surveillance of the cells will continue over time.
Men showing a result in the range of 10-20 after taking the PSA test are considered to be at moderate risk. Their Gleason score is around the seven or eight mark. Optional testing, such as a bone scan or CT scan, is available for moderate risk men to help determine the state of the cells in the prostate and just how aggressive they appear to be.
Treatments at this point range from radiation to hormone therapy and radical or robotic prostatectomy to help fight prostate cancer cells before they progress.
A PSA result over 20 and a Gleason score of 9-10 is considered high risk for prostate cancer, and men falling into this category should seek treatment immediately. A bone scan or CT scan is mandatory at this stage to determine whether the cancerous cells have spread and where exactly they’re located.
Treatments such as radiation are encouraged and other types of treatment, including radical or robotic prostatectomy, may be introduced as well. Early detection is key.