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Prostate Cancer Screening: Questions for the doctor

Prostate cancer is a type of cancer that mostly affects older men. After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men.

Even though prostate cancer is common, screening (testing) for it is not recommended.

Many men have questions about prostate cancer. The information below can help you start a conversation with your doctor or nurse.

What is the prostate?

The male prostate is a small sex gland that makes fluid to carry sperm. It’s located below the bladder and in front of the rectum.

Who is at risk for prostate cancer?

Risk factors for prostate cancer include:

Being age 50 or older
Being African American
Having a father, brother, or son who had prostate cancer

Why isn’t screening recommended for prostate cancer?

Screening for prostate cancer isn’t recommended because the risks of screening and treatment outweigh the benefits.

Most of the time, prostate cancer grows so slowly that men won’t die from it or have any symptoms.
Treatment for prostate cancer is more likely to cause medical problems than the prostate cancer itself.
The screening tests for prostate cancer that are available now can’t tell if you have a cancer that will cause problems or not.

What do I ask the doctor?

Here are some questions you may want to ask your doctor or nurse:

Am I at risk for prostate cancer?
Are there things I can do to lower my risk for prostate cancer?
What are the benefits and harms (risks) of prostate cancer screening and treatment?
Are there any warning signs or symptoms of prostate cancer I should look out for?