Prostate Cancer Screening Guidelines

Cancer screening exams are medical tests performed when a person has no symptoms. 

Common prostate cancer screening tests include:

  • Digital rectal exam (DRE) – a doctor or nurse inserts a finger into your rectum to feel the prostate for lumps.
  • Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test – a simple blood draw.

Prostate cancer screening should begin at age 50 for most men. Screening should begin at age 45 for African American men or men with a family history (father, brother, son) of prostate cancer. Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center recommends:

Age 45

  • Discuss screening risks and benefits with a health care provider.
  • If you choose to be screened, get a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test.
  • Strongly consider digital rectal exam, if you choose to be screened.
  • Continue testing as indicated by your previous test results.

Age 75 or older

  • Your doctor can help you decide if you should continue screening for prostate cancer.
  • Banner MD Anderson doesn’t recommend cancer screening for men age 85 or older.

Along with regular exams, practice awareness. This means you should be familiar with your body. That way you’ll notice changes, like irregular urination. Then, report them to your doctor without delay.

Exams for men at increased risk

Men at increased risk (link to risk factor page) are more likely to get prostate cancer. This doesn’t mean you’ll definitely get cancer. But you may need to start screening at an earlier age or be tested more often.

You’re at increased risk if you fall under one or more of these groups:

  • Family history (especially father, brother, son) of prostate cancer
  • African-American

Follow the screening schedule below if you’re at increased risk:

Age 40

  • Discuss screening risks and benefits with your health care provider.
  • Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test and digital rectal exam should be initiated

These recommendations are provided as a guide. If exam results suggest cancer, other diagnostic tests, such as an ultrasound or biopsy of the prostate tissue, should be conducted.

Because prostate cancer is a slow-growing cancer, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) screening guidelines advise that men over 75 consult their doctor to see if a PSA blood test is right for them.

Research is constantly being done to discover new screening tests for prostate cancer, including genetic tests. Talk with your doctor to find out the latest updates in screening options.