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Common Health Tests (cont.)

Prostate and Testicular Cancers

Prostate cancer: Screening for prostate cancer is a subject of debate among doctors. It is not yet completely clear that screening is cost effective or saves significant numbers of lives. It is also not completely clear what the best screening test is. In general, the following recommendations could be made.

  • Men over 50 years of age would benefit from an annual rectal examination, together with a blood test called a PSA (which stands for prostate specific antigen).
  • Prostate cancer is a disease that affects African-American males more commonly than white males. In African-American males, screening should probably start earlier -- as young as 40 years of age.
  • Men with a strong family history of the disease should also start screening at an earlier age.

Testicular cancer: Cancer of the testis represents the most common type of cancer in males between 25 and 40 years of age. The risk of the disease is increased if the man has undescended testes. Some doctors have advocated for an annual screening test or examination of the testes by a doctor. Others have suggested an educational campaign for men along the same lines as the breast self-examination guidelines for women.

  • Men are encouraged to conduct monthly testicular self-examinations. Currently, no firm guidelines are in place. This is another area where discussion with your doctor would be in order, especially if you have a history of undescended testes or a family history of testicular cancer.
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