Prostate Cancer Prevention and Screening

Screening can improve prostate cancer detection

A smiling mature man represents the power and value of knowing prostate cancer symptoms.

Screening can improve prostate cancer detection

With the exception of skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men; about 1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with the disease during his lifetime.

The exact causes of prostate cancer are not known, and researchers are continually trying to learn more about what may raise or lower a man’s risk. Continue reading below for more about risk factors, prostate cancer prevention and screening, and the benefits of early detection.

Causes, risks and family history

Scripps Cancer Center encourages you to take an active role in your health by learning about potential causes, risk factors and preventive strategies for prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer prevention

There is no way to completely prevent prostate cancer, but you may be able to decrease the chance of developing it by taking steps to:

  • Reduce your controllable risk factors
  • Increase protective factors

If you have risk factors that you cannot control, such as a family history, talk with your physician about additional ways to reduce your risk.

Benefits of early detection

When prostate cancer is detected early, before it has spread beyond the prostate or even if it has spread only to nearby areas (as opposed to distant parts of the body), the relative five-year survival rate is almost 100%.

Preventive screening

Prostate cancer screening can help detect cancer even before symptoms start. But it has both benefits and risks. Because prostate cancer is a slow-growing cancer, some men who have it may never develop problems or even know they have the disease unless they're screened. In such cases, screening may lead to unnecessary treatment. Talk with your physician about the pros and cons of screening so you can make an informed decision about being tested.

The most common screening tests for prostate cancer are prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and the digital rectal exam (DRE). Both are detailed in the next section.

Scripps recommends the following prostate cancer screening tests for most men:

Age 50 to 75

  • Screening risks and benefits discussed with your physician
  • Digital rectal exam every year (if you choose to be screened)
  • Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test every year (if you choose to be screened)

Age 76 to 84

  • Screening discussed with your physician

Age 85 and older

  • Screening not recommended for men age 85 or older

Screening for men with increased risk

Men who have an increased risk of developing prostate cancer may need to start screening at an earlier age or have more frequent tests. If you have risk factors, such as a family history of prostate cancer, talk with your physician about screening recommendations.