Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is one of the most prevalent forms of cancer. The prostate is a small, rubbery gland the size of a golf ball that is part of the male reproductive system. It produces ejaculate which feeds the spermatozoa (male sex cells that carry a man’s genetic material). Prostate cancer is the abnormal growth of glandular cells within this gland. Most of this growth has been known to occur in the peripheral zone (the area that extends posterolaterally around the gland from apex to base) of the gland—this is the area that a doctor examines with a digital rectal exam (DRE). Unfortunately, there are really no true symptoms individuals experience related to prostate cancer alone. Therefore, screening is recommended for the detection and treatment of the disease. Click here to see the American Cancer Society’s recommendations.

Prostate Cancer Screening

Prostate cancer screening should be done by doing both a prostate-specific-antigen blood level (PSA) and a digital rectal examination (DRE). Because PSA levels can increase with prostate stimulation, it is good practice to abstain from ejaculation at least three days prior to a blood draw. A single elevated result is not enough for diagnosis, but it serves as a red flag that something may be going on and further investigation is needed.

The digital rectal exam (DRE) continues to be highly recommended, as most prostate cancer can be found in part of the peripheral zone which is palpable. Occasionally a true nodule or nodules can be felt. Of note, all prostate nodules should be further investigated and considered abnormal until pathologically proven otherwise.

Prostate cancer screening typically begins at age 40, but with the known high prevalence in African American males, screening can begin as early as age 35. As mentioned, there are no true symptoms or signs of prostate cancer, but due to the abnormal gland growth, the patient may have urinary complaints such as increased frequency, urgency, and even microscopic blood in the urine.

Prostate Cancer Prognosis

While prostate cancer may seem daunting, the good news is that it is often a very treatable and almost curable cancer, especially when diagnosed at its early stages. When it comes to prostate cancer, don’t delay. Talk to your doctor today to see if a screening is right for you.


ingrid ortiz

About Ingrid Ortiz, FNP-BC

Ingrid Ortiz, FNP-BC is a board-certified family nurse practitioner with TPMG Urology in Newport News. Ingrid treats adults for a variety of acute and chronic urological conditions, including low testosterone, erectile dysfunction, benign prostatic hyperplasia, overactive bladder, incontinence, stress incontinence, urinary tract infections, pelvic floor dysfunction, scrotal pain, urinary retention, elevated PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen), and kidney stone disease. 

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According to the American Cancer Society, about 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime, but certain factors such as age, race, family history, among other things can impact your risk. So, who should be screened for prostate cancer?