he prostate is a gland of the male reproductive system that aids in the creation and transportation of seminal fluid. Though during most of a man’s life the prostate is about the size of a walnut and only weighs about 11 grams, as men get older it can begin to enlarge, weighing up to 70 grams.
An enlarged prostate gland is the main complaint of men over the age of 50, and it is estimated that about 1 in every 9 men 65 years and older will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point. As with any other kind of cancer, prostate cancer beings when cells begin to grow and divide uncontrollably, but it rarely causes any symptoms.
In addition to usually being asymptomatic, prostate cancer tends to grow very slowly. This means that the vast majority of patients are diagnosed at a very early stage and have pretty good chances of survival.
Because prostate cancer is the second most common type of cancer in men, doctors recommend that all males over the age of 50 (or earlier if they have a prostate cancer family history) undergo a routine prostate screening test. Typically, a routine prostate cancer checkup is performed by a urologist, which is a doctor that specializes in the male reproductive system.
These screenings it usually involves a manual examination to check the size of the prostate, and a blood test to look for elevated prostate-specific antigen (PSA). If the doctor considers that any or both of these tests are altered they may recommend a biopsy to check for cancer cells in the prostate or surrounding tissues.