Prostate Cancer 101: When and Where To Get Screened

By: Brian Gallagher, MD

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in American men. This cancer occurs in the prostate, which is a small walnut-shaped gland in male reproductive system. 

While all men are at risk for prostate cancer, African-American men are more likely to get prostate cancer. According to the CDC, out of every 100 American men, about 13 will get prostate cancer. Of those, two or three men will die from prostate cancer.

ZERO – The End of Prostate Cancer, a nonprofit dedicated to raising awareness for prostate cancer, estimated that 29,750 African-American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2021. One in six African-American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime, and African-American men are twice are likely to die from prostate cancer. This increase in death rate is attributed to the disease being more advanced when it is found in African-American men, and a tendency for African-American men to have a more severe type of prostate cancer.

The most common risk factor for prostate cancer in all men is age. The older a man is, the more he is at risk for getting prostate cancer. About 60% of the cases occur in men older than 65. Men who have a family history of prostate cancer are at a greater risk of dying from prostate cancer. Exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, and a healthy diet can help reduce a man’s risk of prostate cancer.

Different people have different symptoms for prostate cancer. The vast majority of men do not have symptoms at all. However, if you or someone you love are having any of the following symptoms, see a doctor right away:

  • Problems starting urination
  • Weak flow of urine
  • Frequent urination, particularly at night
  • Difficulty completely emptying the bladder
  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Blood in the urine or semen
  • Ongoing pain in the back, hips, or pelvis
  • Painful ejaculation

While these may be symptoms of prostate cancer, these may also be signs of other health issues. In fact, in a recent survey of men with prostate cancer by ZERO – The End of Prostate Cancer, only 5.24% learned that they had prostate cancer because of symptoms. The overwhelming majority (94%) learned about their diagnosis from early detection through a screening test. The best chance for successful treatment of prostate cancer is with early detection through screening.

One of the most common tests to screen for prostate cancer is a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) Test. A PSA Test is a noninvasive, simple blood test which measures the level of PSA in the blood. PSA is a substance made by the prostate. The levels of PSA may be higher in men who have prostate cancer, although a man’s PSA level may also be elevated due to other conditions and because of this a doctor is the best person to interpret PSA test results.

You should consider seeking a screening through PSA Test if you are a male who has never been diagnosed with prostate cancer and is:

  • Age 50+ and at average risk of prostate cancer.
  • Age 45-50 and at high risk of developing prostate cancer. This includes African Americans and men who have a first-degree relative (father or brother) diagnosed with prostate cancer at an early age (younger than age 65).
  • Age 40-45 and at an even higher risk (those with more than one first-degree relative who had prostate cancer at an early age).

The Urology Center of Iowa (UCI) at Broadlawns Medical Center will be hosting two free community prostate screening events in Broadlawns’ Medical Office Building on Tuesday, June 8th and Tuesday, June 22nd from 5:00-7:00 PM. With funding from ZERO – The End of Prostate, UCI’s board certified urologists will be offering free PSA screenings and consultations. Light refreshments will be served. Walk-ins are welcome, but appointments are encouraged. To schedule a free screening, call the Urology Center of Iowa at Broadlawns at 515-282-7390.

The Urology Center of Iowa is dedicated to the surgical specialty of urology. Founded by a group of established urologists in Des Moines in 2019, this private practice affords patients in Central Iowa uncomplicated access to comprehensive, compassionate and state-of-the-art urologic care.

The Urology Center of Iowa at Broadlawns offers diagnostic care and treatment for male and female patients with urinary and reproductive concerns.  Clinical assessment and procedures are provided for urinary tract and reproductive diseases and conditions with exceptional expertise from board certified physicians.