Advertisement

Can prostate cancer be found before the symptoms appear?

Yes. There are two major screening tools for prostate cancer: the digital rectal exam (DRE) and the prostate specific-antigen (PSA) blood test. The role for PSA screening has been debated in the last few years, and both PSA and DRE need to be done in the context of the patient's family history and risk factors. Prostate cancer can occur in the absence of symptoms, and if it is suspected by screening tests it can be confirmed by biopsy.

Yes. Prostate cancer screening is looking for the disease before a person has any symptoms. Two screening tests commonly used to detect prostate cancer in the absence of symptoms are the digital rectal exam (DRE), in which a doctor feels the prostate through the rectum to find hard or lumpy areas, and a blood test that detects a substance made by the prostate called prostate-specific antigen (PSA). Together, these tests can detect many silent prostate cancers that have not caused symptoms. Due to the widespread use of PSA testing in the United States, approximately 90 percent of all prostate cancers are currently diagnosed at an early stage, and, consequently, men are surviving longer after diagnosis.

This answer is based on source information from the National Cancer Institute.

Dr. Mark S. Litwin, MD
Urologist

The early detection of prostate cancer is key to its diagnosis, treatment and cure. The only way to make sure it’s diagnosed early is to have regular checkups. The checkup for prostate cancer includes two critical elements. The first is the digital rectal examination (DRE). The other element of early diagnosis is a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test.

Continue Learning about Prostate Cancer

Got Prostate Cancer? Don't Skip Your Regular Checkups
Got Prostate Cancer? Don't Skip Your Regular Checkups
Sometimes, prostate cancer doesn’t need any treatment—at least not right away. Because the tumor grows so slowly, doctors often choose to keep tabs on...
Read More
How effective is a digital rectal examination in prostate cancer screening?
Dr. Marc B. Garnick, MDDr. Marc B. Garnick, MD
A digital rectal examination (DRE) is a screening test in which the physician inserts a gloved finge...
More Answers
What is stage 4 prostate cancer?
Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhDDr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Stage 4 prostate cancer has progressed to tissues near the prostate such as the rectum, bladder, and...
More Answers
Are We Likely To Develop A More Accurate Test Than PSA For Prostate Cancer?
Are We Likely To Develop A More Accurate Test Than PSA For Prostate Cancer?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.