Early detection key to avoiding prostate cancer


Prostate cancer is the number one cancer threat to Canadian men and their families. A man’s lifetime risk of prostate cancer is one in eight. This year alone about 20,000 men will be diagnosed. Prostate cancer is often a slow growing disease, and with early detection cure rates can reach 95 per cent. This is reason enough to make early detection an important factor in diagnosing and treating the disease. Early diagnosis and treatment do save lives.

Even though prostate cancer is a sensitive subject to many men because of its physical origin, it’s important to know that detecting prostate cancer in its earliest stages greatly helps the chances of a diagnosed man being treated and cured. Most often there are no symptoms, which means that men must get tested even when they’re feeling fine. If men wait for symptoms to arise in order to see their doctor, that wait may be too long and may come with a death sentence.

“Early detection is key to helping stop this disease cold in its tracks,” says John Blanchard, the Prostate Cancer Research Foundation of Canada’s president and CEO, and prostate cancer survivor. “A lot of men know little about the dangers of prostate cancer and think that it won’t happen to them. I was the same. I was over 50, visited the gym when I could, and ate as well as possible – I was surprised to learn that I had prostate cancer. Regular prostate exams saved my life by detecting the cancer at an early stage.”

At age 45, ask your doctor about having prostate exams. All men should be tested annually after age 50, some even earlier. There are two necessary tests in detecting prostate cancer:

  1. Have a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test done. The PSA is a simple blood test that enables doctors to detect prostate cancer at a very early and curable stage – even before symptoms occur. It’s the best test available for the early detection of prostate cancer. The higher the PSA level the more likely the presence of prostate cancer. Men with a high PSA are often advised to have a biopsy to see if there is cancer present.
  2. It is also recommended to have a Digital Rectal Examination (DRE). Since the prostate is situated immediately in front of the rectum, the doctor can feel the prostate through the rectal wall. A normal prostate is smooth and firm, but not hard. While the procedure is uncomfortable, it is generally painless and quick.

This test is complementary to the PSA. Combined with a digital rectal examination (DRE), PSA testing is the most effective tool for the early diagnosis of prostate cancer.

Often there are no symptoms of prostate cancer at the early stages of the disease, but men should contact their doctor if one or more of the following occurs:

  • Frequent, difficult, or painful urination
  • Blood or pus in the urine
  • Pain in the lower back, pelvic area, or upper thighs
  • Painful ejaculation
  • If you’re a man over the age of 40 you could be at risk. Talk to your doctor.

The Prostate Cancer Research Foundation of Canada offers an online and interactive Risk Assessment Tool at www.prostatecancer.ca that is the first of its kind in Canada. Once the online questionnaire is completed a personalized page of information lets you know if you are at low, medium or high risk of prostate cancer. After you have completed this test it is advisable to visit your doctor to discuss prostate cancer.

The Prostate Cancer Research Foundation of Canada is the leading national organization devoted solely to eliminating prostate cancer. Its mission is to fund research into the causes, cure, and prevention of the disease. Prostate cancer is the number one cancer threat to Canadian men. It will afflict one in eight men in their lifetime. The Foundation is committed to changing this reality. For information about prostate cancer or the Prostate Cancer Research Foundation of Canada, visit www.prostatecancer.ca, email info@prostatecancer.ca or call toll-free 1-888-255-0333.