Prostate Cancer Screening: Questions for the doctor

Prostate Cancer Screening: Questions for the doctor

Prostate cancer is a type of cancer that’s most common in older men. After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the United States.

Even though prostate cancer is common, getting screened (tested) for prostate cancer isn’t right for all men.

  • Men ages 55 to 69 – Talk to your doctor about whether to get screened for prostate cancer. Together, you and your doctor can decide what’s right for you.
  • Men age 70 or older – Routine screening for prostate cancer isn’t recommended because the potential risks outweigh the benefits for most men.

Many men have questions about prostate cancer. The information below can help you start a conversation with your doctor or nurse about the risks and benefits of screening.

What is the prostate?

The prostate is a small gland in men. It makes a fluid that carries sperm. It’s located below the bladder and in front of the rectum.

Who is at risk for prostate cancer?

Any man can get prostate cancer. But the risk is higher for men who:

  • Are age 50 or older
  • Are African American
  • Have a father, brother, or son who had prostate cancer

Why isn’t screening recommended for all men?

All screening tests have both risks and benefits. For some men, the risks of screening for prostate cancer outweigh the benefits.

  • Most of the time, prostate cancer grows so slowly that men won’t die from it or have any symptoms.
  • The screening tests for prostate cancer that are available now can’t tell whether you have a cancer that will cause problems or not.
  • The results of prostate cancer screening tests can sometimes be wrong.
  • Treatment for prostate cancer can cause medical problems like erectile dysfunction (impotence) or loss of bladder control.

If you are between ages 55 to 69:

  • The decision to get screened is a personal choice that you can make after talking with your doctor.
  • Some men might decide that they are okay with the potential risks of getting screened. Other men might decide the risks aren’t worth it.
  • Together, you and your doctor can decide what’s right for you.

If you are age 70 or older:

  • Prostate screening isn’t recommended because the potential risks outweigh the benefits for most men.
  • This is true even if you are at a higher risk for prostate cancer.
  • If you have questions about prostate cancer, talk to your doctor.

What do I ask the doctor?

Here are some questions you may want to ask:

  • Am I at higher risk for prostate cancer?
  • Are there things I can do to lower my risk for prostate cancer?
  • What are the risks and benefits of prostate cancer screening and treatment for me?
  • Are there any warning signs or symptoms of prostate cancer I should look out for?
  • If the results show that I might have prostate cancer, what are my options?

For more information about prostate cancer screening, visit: