Detect prostate cancer early

Keep an eye on the signs of prostate cancer and see your doctor for screening tests.

Stethoscope for prostate cancer detection

Prostate cancer is the second most common form of male cancer, right behind skin cancer. It develops in the prostate – a walnut-sized gland that sits just below the bladder. Prostate cancer can grow very slowly, but some types are more aggressive and can spread quickly without appropriate treatment. 

Some men may not show any symptoms during early stages, but should keep an eye out for:

  • frequent urination, especially at night
  • difficulty starting or stopping urination
  • weak or interrupted urinary stream
  • painful or burning sensation during urination or ejaculation
  • blood in urine or semen
  • deep pain in the lower back, hips, or upper thighs.


There are many screening tests available to detect prostate cancer early. Men should talk with their doctor about screening tests at the following ages:

  • 50 for men who are likely to live 10 years or more
  • 45 for men with a father, brother or son diagnosed before age 65
  • 40 for men with more than one first-degree relative diagnosed at an early age.


Types of screening tests available to you

Digital rectal exam (DRE)
In short, your doctor feels through the rectum for potential bumps or hard spots on your prostate.

Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test
PSA is a protein produced by prostate cells. Elevated levels may indicate that you have cancer, but you can still have a high level and be cancer-free. You can also display a normal PSA but still have prostate cancer. This is a blood test. 

Prostate cancer biopsy
This is the most effective way to detect cancer and predict whether it is aggressive or growing slowly. A needle is inserted through the skin between the rectum and scrotum, or through the rectum wall. Small tissue samples are then removed and examined under a microscope by a pathologist. 

Biopsy and Gleason score
Results of these tests help to determine the potential spread of the cancer. Gleason scores influence the type of treatment your doctor will recommend. A pathologist checks any cell abnormalities and grades the tissue sample. 

Prostate cancer imaging
There are also additional tests to track the spread of cancer beyond the prostate – such as an ultrasound, a CT scan, an MRI scan or a radionuclide bone scan. 

The good news is …

Prostate cancer usually grows quite slowly, and nine out of 10 cases are found in the early stages. Overall, the five-year relative survival rate is 100 per cent for men with disease confined to the prostate or nearby tissues. Many men live much longer. If the disease has spread far beyond the prostate, the survival rate drops to 28 per cent. So, as uncomfortable as the thought of a ‘digital’ rectal exam may seem, detecting prostate cancer early gives you the best chance of survival. When you take into account these figures, a little discomfort seems a good trade. 

Read more at Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia.


    To make a comment, please register or login
    1st Sep 2016
    Hey Leon............I like the man.
    I heard that prostate cancer kills more men that breast cancer does women. But who ever hears a word about prostate cancer? Well done Leon. Come on guys, get proactive.
    Old Geezer
    1st Sep 2016
    Unfortunately with prostate cancer if you have symptoms it is usually too late. So my advice is get yourself tested before you get symptoms. The bone pain associated with metastatic prostate cancer I am told is not good and is usually treated with radiation if they can find it.

    1st Sep 2016
    If you are uncomfortable with the DRE, the AMA ruled about a year ago that it wasn't a definitive measure anyway. Blood test should be good enough.
    1st Sep 2016
    It may not be comfortable, and I don't think anyone ever said it was a definitive test.

    It is but one test the doctor can use, in conjunction with others, as part of a preliminary investigation.

    I was not comfortable with it, but if it helps to save my life, then I can overcome the minor discomfort.

    Guess I am lucky in that I have an excellent GP, who specialises in men's health issues, and explains everything to me in a clear, logical manner.
    1st Sep 2016
    You think whatever you want, I am only repeating AMA information.
    1st Sep 2016
    there is also a blood test now available to detect this cancer which is being advertised on tv recently i have just had one all came back negative they also check you for other things at the same time as when they check you for prostate cancer.
    1st Sep 2016
    Unfortunately the PSA blood test is also not a reliable test, along with DRE etc.

    They don't spend as much money researching this as they do on breast cancer.
    1st Sep 2016
    The PSA IS a reliable test as a precursor to further testing.
    1st Sep 2016
    "They don't spend as much money researching this as they do on breast cancer."
    - That's scandalous- Where's the equality in medical treatment of men?-
    1st Sep 2016
    The PSA test which I had every year from the age 40 detected my prostate cancer at the age 67. A simple biopsy confirmed the cancer and was operated on two weeks later. Five years of follow up tests still shows the äll clear".

    I suggest that all males take the PSA test it might save your life one did mine.
    1st Sep 2016
    Congratulations, jeffr. Your comment shows just how astute johinmelb is.
    1st Sep 2016
    That is the issue johninmelb. Prostate cancer is the silent killer and does not attract the big money whilst breast cancer seems to be the only issue of importance. Usually every couple of weeks.
    I understand we guys are to blame and it is our fault that we do not beat the drum like the ladies but the media need to be exposed for their handling of some issues, this one included.
    Good to some of the guys out there batting. Thanks also Leon for supporting the mens minority.
    1st Sep 2016
    I have a regular PSA test so I have no idea what you're rabbiting on about - as usual.
    1st Sep 2016
    I have it from a neighbour who went under the knife 12 months ago that the PSA test is not conclusive, but maybe you know better. Is that a carrot....?
    2nd Sep 2016
    MICK, I think the stick would be better in this case.
    Old Geezer
    2nd Sep 2016
    Mammograms are not as good as they would like you to believe in detecting breast cancer either. I have heard figures of up to 50% of breast cancers are missed.
    2nd Sep 2016
    Prostate cancer!!! Are you a woman Geezer.....don't answer that.
    2nd Sep 2016
    PSA test any time with a follow up when it is out. Waiting for symptoms to show up is not the way to go you will be most likely be too late, with all the consequences.
    Young Simmo
    2nd Sep 2016
    I posted this on the Peeballs page and thought maybe it should be here as well.

    A couple of years ago I had a scare in this BALL park. My Doctor prescribed Lyrica tablets to combat my Peripheral Neuropathy. I probably only took 2 or 3 tablets and I was in trouble. I couldn't pee sitting down and barely managed a couple of drops while standing. I stopped the Lyrica immediately, and it took 2 or 4 days to get back too normal. Went straight back to the Dr and he gave me a prescription for Tegretol, and I had the same result. So be warned fellas, those tabs can cause enlarged Prostate for me, maybe not everybody but be carefull.
    16th Jun 2017
    It is all confusing and have had numerous 'heated' discussions with my GP about conflicting information given depending on what expert you speak to. I used to get both the rectal test and the PSA test on a periodic timeframe. I have been for 15 years and now I am 67.

    However my GP and the practice they work for are no longer recommending the PSA test as it is not conclusive and can lead to further unnecessary invasive testing (biopsy) that can cause additional side effects including infection. Prostate can enlarge normally with age anyhow but it does not mean you have prostate cancer. PSA levels can also rise and give a false impression that you may have cancer and cause panic and invasive further testing when not needed. Bike riding and recent sexual among other things I understand can give elevated PSA results. My GP and the practice now follow the guide issued by the RACGP:
    However another group called Manup Australia still promote and advocate testing. I recently attended one of their talks and asked the question about the PSA testing. They agreed that it was not an accurate screening test but in the absence of anything else, it was better than nothing.
    17th Jun 2017
    Also, do not ride a bike or have a Digital examination for at least 1 week b4 you have blood test as it can give a false reading

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