Screening guidelines for prostate cancer

April 26, 2024

Prostate cancer is a common concern for men, but screening guidelines can vary. This can be confusing. Let’s explore the potential benefits and drawbacks of prostate cancer screening to help you make an informed decision with your doctor.


  • Early detection of high-risk prostate cancer allows for successful treatment, potentially preventing complications associated with advanced stages.

Potential Harms:

  • False-positive results (more likely with age) can lead to unnecessary biopsies and potential side effects from treatment.

Who Should Discuss Screening?

The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends discussing screening with your doctor at these ages:

  • Age 50: Men at average risk with a life expectancy of at least 10 years.
  • Age 45: Men at high risk, including African Americans and those with a first-degree relative diagnosed young.
  • Age 40: Men at even higher risk (multiple first-degree relatives diagnosed young).

Tests Involved:

  • PSA Blood Test: Measures prostate-specific antigen levels.
  • Digital Rectal Exam (DRE): May be part of the screening process.

Follow-Up Screening:

The frequency of future screenings depends on the initial PSA results:

  • PSA below 2.5 ng/mL: Retesting every 2 years might be sufficient.
  • PSA above 2.5 ng/mL: Yearly screening may be recommended.

Early Detection Matters

While not all prostate cancers require treatment, early detection remains crucial for successful outcomes. If your family history, lifestyle, or other factors raise your risk, discuss screening with your doctor. Together, you can decide if it’s right for you.