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Taking Control of Prostate Cancer

Elizabeth Holmes

Senior Manager of Health Policy, Canadian Cancer Society


How well do you know your body? Knowing what’s normal for you helps you notice changes. When you notice something different about your body — like a new growth or lump, increased fatigue, or dramatic weight loss — it needs to be checked out. There are also tests that help find different types of cancer before you’ve even noticed symptoms. 

If you have a prostate, you may want to consider the benefits and limitations of testing for prostate cancer.

When prostate cancer is found and treated early, the chances of successful treatment are better. Get regular health checkups and see your doctor if you have any symptoms or are worried about your health.

PSA testing

The prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test is a key step in detecting prostate cancer early. It’s a blood test that can determine if a person’s PSA levels are higher than they should be — this can indicate that something might be wrong before symptoms are noticed.

The Canadian Cancer Society recommends talking to your doctor about the PSA test, considering your personal risk factors, and then making an informed decision about whether the PSA test is right for you.

If you’re at average risk of developing prostate cancer, consider testing from age 50.

If you’re at high risk of developing prostate cancer, consider testing from age 45. Black men and those with a family history of prostate cancer are considered to be at high risk.

If you have a prostate, you may want to consider the benefits and limitations of testing for prostate cancer.

Deciding whether to choose PSA testing

Almost every test or procedure has benefits and limitations. You might think of these as pros and cons. Before having any test, it’s important to be aware of them so that you’re making an informed decision that’s right for you. Testing for prostate cancer early — before you have any symptoms —
 is your choice.

There are a number of benefits and limitations that come along with PSA testing. For example, some benefits include potentially finding prostate cancer early before you have symptoms, and if the result is normal then you might feel reassurance. Limitations could include false positives and negatives, or test results could potentially lead to unnecessary treatment that may have side effects. 

It’s your decision

Still trying to decide about the PSA test? Research hasn’t yet clearly shown if the benefits of testing for prostate cancer outweigh the limitations. Deciding whether to be tested for prostate cancer can be confusing. You may assess the benefits and limitations of doing a PSA test differently than someone else based on your values and preferences. It’s important to talk to your doctor about what’s right for you so that you can make an informed decision. 


This article was brought to you by one of Canada’s leading research-based pharmaceutical companies.

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