How Often Should You Check For Prostate Cancer?

Approximately one out of eight men in the UK will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. It’s the most common cancer in men, with an average of more than 52,000 men diagnosed yearly — that’s 143 men every day.

More than 12,000 men die each year, which translates to one death every 45 minutes. Fortunately, prostate cancer is highly treatable if caught early, with 86.6% surviving their cancer for more than five years or more.

In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at prostate cancer screening, including who should get tested, at what age and how often. We’ll also examine the advantages and disadvantages of the different prostate screening tests.

What is the average age that prostate cancer is diagnosed?

Prostate cancer is rarely diagnosed in men younger than 40. As you age, however, your chances of being diagnosed with prostate cancer increase rapidly. About six in ten cases of prostate cancer are found in men over the age of 65.

In addition to age, the most significant factors affecting your prostate cancer risk are your family history and race. Having a father or brother with prostate cancer more than doubles your chances of developing it.

The risk for black men is also higher, with about one in four black men getting prostate cancer in the UK.

What are the screening tests for prostate cancer?

There is no definitive prostate cancer test, but several screening tests might be recommended depending on your age and risk level. The two main screening tests for prostate cancer are PSA blood tests and digital rectal exams (DREs).

PSA blood test

A prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test is a blood test to diagnose prostate problems, including cancer. It measures the amount of PSA protein in your blood.

Your PSA levels can vary depending on your age and other factors such as exercise, infections, medication and sexual activity. For these reasons, PSA tests can only indicate your risk — it’s not a definitive test.

A PSA test can help detect prostate cancer before you experience any symptoms, which is why regular PSA tests for at-risk individuals can be beneficial.

Check4Cancer offers an easy-to-use at-home prostate cancer PSA test for men aged 40 and older. It’s an affordable and convenient way to check your risk for prostate cancer from the comfort of your own home.

Digital rectal exam (DRE)

A digital rectal exam (DRE) can be given by your GP or in the hospital. During the exam, the doctor will put a finger in your back passage (rectum) to check for any problems with your prostate.

This test can determine if you have an enlarged prostate or if your prostate is hard or lumpy. Although a DRE test is not 100% accurate, it can sometimes find cancers in men with normal PSA levels.

How often should you test for prostate cancer?

There is currently no national screening programme for prostate cancer in the UK. However, you might want to start screening if you are high-risk due to your family history or race.

There are some disadvantages of PSA testing. For example, having elevated PSA levels does not necessarily mean you have cancer. For this reason, you should carefully weigh the benefits of early detection against your personal risk.

You can discuss the advantages and disadvantages of PSA testing with your GP if you have any concerns.

40–49 years of age

Men between 40 and 49 should have a baseline PSA to test their levels. It’s vital for men with higher risks of developing prostate cancer to have an initial PSA test to determine their risk and identify if there is a need for more frequent monitoring or further tests.

50 years and above

Most men will benefit from a PSA blood test from age 50. This is when men are most likely to get cancer and when the benefits of treatment will start to outweigh any potential risk of treatment side effects.

The recommended frequency of PSA blood tests and DRE exams will vary based on your historic PSA levels and personal risk levels.

What are the benefits of getting a prostate cancer checkup?

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer found in men. The risks of prostate cancer increase dramatically after the age of 50.

The benefits of PSA testing include the following:

  • It’s a simple, widely available blood test
  • You’ll get peace of mind if you get a normal result
  • If the results are higher than normal for your age, it’s an indication that you should have further testing
  • It might be an indication of prostate cancer before you notice symptoms
  • Early detection before cancer has spread from the prostate is easier to treat
  • There have been a decreased number of prostate cancer deaths since the introduction of PSA testing

Early detection and treatment can improve survival rates, but there are some limitations of PSA testing, including false positive results. For these reasons, PSA testing is a personal decision you should make based on your preferences and risk factors.

For more information, please read our article on why you should get tested for prostate cancer.

Order a prostate cancer test kit today

Check4Cancer offers simple and affordable at-home prostate cancer test kits for men aged 40+. There’s no need for a GP visit, and we offer full clinical advice and support and onward referral if you have an abnormal result.

At Check4Cancer, we want to empower you to take control of your health. If you have a high risk for prostate cancer, our at-home PSA check could be right for you. Order your test kit today.