Men's Health Conditions

Prostate Cancer Prevention & Early Detection

Prostate Cancer Prevention & Early Detection


The exact cause of prostate cancer is unknown.  These are the only confirmed factors currently known to increase one’s risk for prostate cancer: family history, age, African American ethnicity, diet and chemical exposure.  However there have been recent studies done that may suggest ways to prevent prostate cancer include a healthy diet, the avoidance of excessive alcohol, healthy weight maintenance and regular exercise.

                                                                                                                                                            Exercise Infographic 1


Early Detection

Because there are no early warning signs for prostate cancer men may choose to undergo a screening for the disease.  Screening for prostate cancer does not provide a diagnosis, it provides valuable information in finding the disease early.  Screening commonly involves two tests:  the prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test, and the digital rectal exam (DRE).

Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) is a protein produced by the prostate gland and there are two types of PSA that occur in the blood; free PSA and complex PSA.  Elevated PSA levels can occur as a result of conditions other than cancer, high levels of PSA can be indicative of a prostate condition or may result from other causes such as trauma, infection or sexual activity.  Some evidence suggests that elevated levels of complex PSA may be associated with prostate cancer while elevated levels of free PSA are associated with benign prostate conditions.  To screen for prostate cancer, the PSA test is often performed in conjuction with a thorough review of family medical history and a digital rectal exam.  Limitations of PSA testing are that the test only indicates a potential prostate problem but it cannot be used to diagnose prostate cancer or predict the severity of the disease.  If the results of the PSA test are positive a biopsy may need to be performed to make a diagnosis.  It is recommended that men over 50 speak to their doctor about whether PSA testing is meant for them.

A Digital Rectal Exam (DRE) is a quick and safe screening technique in which a physician feels the prostate by inserting a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum. This simple procedure allows your physician to determine whether the prostate is enlarged, has lumps, areas of hardness or other types of abnormal texture.  The entire prostate cannot be felt during a DRE but a significant portion can be examined including the area where most prostate cancers are found.  While this examination may produce momentary discomfort, it causes no significant pain.


New tests, or biomarkers, such as the PCA3 urine test or Prostate Health Index (PHI) may aid in the detection of prostate cancer. A biomarker is a biological molecule found in blood, body fluids, or tissues that is a sign of a normal or abnormal condition or disease. Biomarkers may also be used to see how the body responds to a treatment for a disease.  To learn more about biomarkers for detection of prostate cancer please click here. *Need to link to PCEC biomarker page



Over the past 20 years, overall survival rates for all stages of prostate cancer combined have increased from 67% to 89%.  Some of the possible reasons for the increase in survival rates include public education, new techniques of early detection, and aggressive therapy. The major treatment options for prostate cancer include surgery, radiation, medical therapy and watchful waiting. A patient's treatment options will depend upon his age, the stage of the disease, and the advice of a physician.  To learn more about all of the available treatment options for prostate cancer click here.