Medical questions & health advice by licensed doctors
"When should a man start getting his prostate checked?"
I'm 29 years old and various kinds of cancer run in my family, including prostate cancer. When should I start being checked for this? Is there a certain age where men start to get prostate cancer?
This is a very insightful question, as early cancer detection offers the best chance of cure. Screening exams and a careful family history are the best way you and your doctor can go over your health risks and help determine when you should start being screening for particular types of malignancy. In general, it is recommended that men with an average risk of prostate cancer start being screened with a digital rectal exam and PSA blood levels at age 50.
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There is some evidence that African-American men should start being screened a decade earlier, at age 40. For patients in whom cancer runs in the family, earlier screening may be indicated. In your case, your doctor will want to go over who in your family has had cancer and what cancers they have had. Prostate cancer is thought to be very common, and if the men in your family were diagnosed in their 70's and 80's, that is an entirely different situation than an early diagnosis in the 30's or 40's. In addition, depending upon the pattern of what cancers run in your family, you may be referred to a genetic counselor for further testing. The importance of early screening truly cannot be overemphasized, and you are doing exactly the right things to help protect your health down the road.
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