There is no prostate cancer screening program. However, there are certain screening tests for early detection. These are the prostate specific antigen (PSA) test and the digital rectal examination (DRE).
There are advantages and disadvantages of undergoing a screening test for prostate cancer, and each individual must make his choice according to how important he feels it to be.
According to the College of Physicians of Quebec, screening should not be offered to patients over 70 years of age, or those whose life expectancy is less than 10 years. However, physicians should consider screening their patients aged 55-70 years with a life expectancy of over 10 years, and those under 55 years if they are at risk. They must also inform them of the benefits and potential harm of screening to enable them to make an informed decision.
What is prostate cancer screening?
This is a test called the prostate-specific antigen that is performed using a blood test; the doctor will usually complete the screening with digital rectal examination.
It is important to know that a normal screening result does not necessarily mean that you do not have cancer, nor does it mean that you do have cancer if it is abnormal. Only a positive result from a biopsy will confirm a diagnosis of prostate cancer beyond a doubt.
To help you make a decision
Even though your doctor can’t make the decision for you, his or her role is to help you understand more clearly, so don’t hesitate to ask questions.
To help you make the right choice, you can use the tool developed by Laval University’s Department of Family and Emergency Medicine (in French only) in collaboration with other professionals. It provides a more complete, detailed explanation of prostate cancer and screening.
The Quebec Cancer Foundation also provides a telephone pairing service that allows you to chat with another individual who has already been in your situation. For example, you can talk about your concerns over the side effects of a prostate biopsy or cancer treatment, or ask what quality of life you can expect if you are diagnosed with cancer. You can also address all your questions to our qualified nurses via the Info-cancer Hotline.
Collège des médecins du Québec. Prostate cancer screening, It’s YOUR decision! September 2013