Prostate Cancer Screening
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer for Nova Scotia men. It is the third leading cause of cancer death for men after lung and colorectal cancers.1 Prostate cancer can be found early by the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test and the digital rectal exam (DRE). When a cancer is found early, before there are symptoms, it can be treated more effectively.
The use of the PSA test and DRE has reduced the number of deaths due to prostate cancer.2 But, there are risks associated with testing for and treating prostate cancer. And, at this time, the research does not clearly show if the benefits of prostate cancer testing are greater than the risks.
Because of the risks and research findings, there is no organized screening program for prostate cancer in Nova Scotia.
Cancer Care Nova Scotia encourages all men to understand their risk for prostate cancer and the possible side effects of testing and treatment to make an informed choice about taking part in screening.
• Men over the age of 50 who do not have signs of prostate cancer should discuss the benefits and risks of prostate cancer testing with their doctor.
• Men who have a family history of prostate cancer have an increased risk for prostate cancer. At age 40, these men should discuss the benefits and risks of prostate cancer testing with their doctor.
• African-Canadian men have an increased risk for prostate cancer. At age 40, these men should discuss the benefits and risks of prostate cancer testing with their doctor.
• The benefits of prostate cancer testing decline with age. Men over 75 years of age should stop prostate cancer testing.
What are the signs of prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer often has no symptoms in its early stages. Talk to your doctor if you have any of these symptoms:
• need to urinate often, especially at night
• intense need to urinate (urgency)
• difficulty in starting or stopping the urine flow
• inability to urinate
• weak, decreased or interrupted urine stream
• a sense of incompletely emptying the bladder
• burning or pain during urination
• blood in the urine or semen
• painful ejaculation
1, 2. Canadian Cancer Society’s Steering Committee on Cancer Statistics. Canadian Cancer Statistics 2012. Toronto, ON: Canadian Cancer Society; 2012.