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Signs you should see a urologist to check for prostate cancer

nurse holding hands of an elderly man who is about to see a doctor about a check for prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men after skin cancer, which is why it’s so important to get your recommended screenings to check for prostate cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, about one out of every eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. Fortunately, the outcomes are very good with proper screening and today’s advanced treatments.

Keep reading to learn about the signs and symptoms of prostate cancer, the latest screenings and treatments available, which men are most at risk, and how often you should check for prostate cancer.

Why do men get their prostate checked?

Prostate exams allow doctors to check for any problems that may need further screening, including prostate cancer.

At age 50, all men should talk to their doctor about screenings to check for prostate cancer. Earlier screening is recommended for African-American men or men with a family history of prostate cancer.

What are the early signs of prostate problems?

In its early stages, prostate cancer may have no symptoms. But because the prostate gland is close to the bladder, prostate problems can cause urinary symptoms. Early signs of prostate cancer can include:

  • Trouble urinating
  • Frequent need to urinate
  • Pain or burning when urinating
  • Blood in urine
  • Loss of bladder control

Other symptoms of prostate problems can include:

  • Dull pain in the lower pelvic zone
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Pain in the lower back, hips, or upper thighs
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss

How is prostate cancer tested?

Prostate cancer screenings can help doctors detect it early before the cancer spreads. These screenings are important because early treatments can often slow or stop the spread of cancer.

There are a few different ways doctors check for prostate cancer:

  • Digital rectal exam: A physical exam by your doctor to feel for changes in your prostate.
  • PSA test: A blood test that measures a protein in your blood called the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and looks for any changes in your levels, which can indicate a problem.
  • Prostate biopsy: A tissue sample is taken from your prostate (and potentially other organs) to look for cancer cells.

How often should you get checked for prostate cancer?

How often you check for prostate cancer depends on your specific risk factors. Talking to your doctor about when they recommend you get screened is important.

Every two to three years is typically recommended for most men. Doctors often recommend annual screenings for:

  • Men over age 50
  • African-American men
  • Men with a family history of prostate cancer

What increases the risk of prostate cancer?

While the cause of prostate cancer is unknown, some factors can increase a man’s risk for the disease, including:


Your risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer increases as you get older.

Family history

Men with a family history of prostate cancer have a higher risk of getting the disease. Men with a family history of breast or ovarian cancer also have an increased risk for prostate cancer.


African-American men have a higher rate of prostate cancer than other ethnicities. The disease also occurs more often in non-Hispanic white men than in Asian-American or Hispanic/Latino men.


Men over 50 who are also overweight have a greater risk of advanced prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer treatments and outcomes

The treatment success rates for prostate cancer are high compared to many other types of cancer. According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, the 5-year survival rate in the United States for men diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer is greater than 99%.

The need for prostate cancer treatment depends on the type and how advanced it is. In some cases of small or slow-growing (low-risk) tumors, your doctor may recommend active surveillance, which means they don’t believe any treatment is currently needed but will closely monitor the cancer for any changes.

Screenings that check for prostate cancer will help your doctor determine the best course of action. The most common treatments for prostate cancer include:

  • Surgery to remove the prostate
  • Radiation therapy to kill the cancer cells
  • Cryotherapy for controlled freezing of the prostate gland
  • High-intensity focused ultrasounds (HIFU) heat and shrink the prostate using sound waves

How does the HIFU procedure work?

HIFU is a minimally-invasive, outpatient treatment that is sometimes recommended for men with organ-confined prostate cancer. The procedure uses high-power, highly-focused ultrasound beams to heat and destroy cancerous tissue in the prostate.

The procedure maintains the same cure rates as prostate cancer treatments like surgery and radiation, with a much lower risk of side effects like erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence.

Logansport Memorial Hospital urologist Dr. Stephen Beck is one of only three surgeons in Indiana trained to perform the HIFU procedure. Through a partnership with American HIFU, LMH can now provide this innovative prostate cancer treatment for patients across Indiana.

“The optimal outcome in managing prostate cancer is first and foremost to cure while also maintaining sexual function and urinary control,” said Dr. Beck. “HIFU can cure organ-confined prostate cancer while decreasing the risk of side effects that could interfere with a patient’s quality of life.”

Prostate cancer FAQs

Read on for some of the most frequently asked questions we hear from patients who want to learn more about the different tests and screenings to check for prostate cancer.

Should you get a PSA test? What are the pros and cons?

It’s important to talk with your doctor about the pros and cons of getting a PSA test to check for prostate cancer and discuss whether the screening is necessary.

The PSA test itself is a simple blood test and not harmful. Some research has shown that having the test can sometimes lead to unnecessary treatment of slow-growing, non-aggressive prostate cancers. However, the PSA test better predicts who should have a biopsy and who should not.

What is an elevated PSA level?

PSA is a protein found in semen and at low levels in the bloodstream of healthy men. High levels of PSA can indicate prostate cancer, so testing a man’s levels can help with early detection. An elevated PSA does not necessarily mean you have prostate cancer. It just means you may need further testing.

Can you feel if you have prostate cancer?

A urologist can perform a digital rectal exam to feel the prostate for abnormalities and determine if further testing (like a biopsy) is necessary to check for prostate cancer.

Is prostate cancer curable?

Yes, today’s advanced treatments are very effective at slowing or stopping the growth of prostate cancer. At LMH, we’ve seen many success stories, like that of local veteran Don Lombardi.

Don was the first patient to get the Space OAR hydrogel procedure for his radiation treatment. Don’s treatment was successful, and he didn’t even miss a day of work.

“I would choose Logansport Memorial again and again. That’s how much I believe in the cancer care in Logansport, Indiana,” said Don.

Learn about the Space OAR hydrogel procedure

Trust the urology team at LMH

If you’re a man over 50, you need an experienced urologist on your care team. They’re trained to check for prostate cancer and other urologic diseases, often before symptoms appear.

If you’re experiencing urinary symptoms, Dr. Stephen Beck and Monica Davis, NP, will work with you to develop a customized treatment plan that restores your health and improves your quality of life.

Request an appointment with Dr. Beck

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TOPICS: Urology