ZocdocAnswersWhat is prostate cancer?

Question

What is prostate cancer?

My wife says I should get checked out for prostate cancer, but I feel fine. Is it really necessary for me to do? I'm 55 and completely healthy.

Answer

This is an excellent question to consider since preventing cancer (or detecting it early) can often be far better than finding something once you begin to have symptoms. Overall the best thing for you to do in this situation is to see your primary care physician right away for a review of your health history, family history, and a physical exam. As you may be aware, standard medical practice to screen for prostate cancer in men over age 50 was to perform a digital rectal examination to check for an enlarged or nodular prostate gland, accompanied by blood work checking for the PSA (prostate-specific antigen) levels. However, after additional study in thousands of men, new recommendations suggest that it may not be necessary to check PSA in all men, only those with certain symptoms or family history. For this reason, deciding what would be the best decision for you will likely involve a discussion with your physician about risks and benefits so you can make the most informed decision. However, if you do have a family history of early prostate cancer or if you are African-American, it is likely that your physician will recommend more rigorous screening. Even though you feel fine (which is good!) it is important to make sure that you are up to date on all of your preventive health maintenance to ensure that you stay healthy for years to come.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.