Prostate Cancer

Screening & Detection

Lahey Hospital & Medical Center recommends annual prostate screening in men aged 50 and over as an important component of men’s health. Men at high risk, including African Americans and those with a primary relative diagnosed with prostate cancer at an early stage, are recommended to have annual screenings beginning at age 45.

Physicians in the Prostate Center utilize prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood tests and digital rectal examinations (DRI) to screen for prostate cancer. Transrectal ultrasound is used to obtain a biopsy and confirm presence of malignant cells.

Treating prostate cancer requires a truly individualized approach. Older men with slow-growing tumors may choose not to be treated, as it may be many years before the cancer becomes life-threatening. Men under the age of 70 and those with aggressive tumors are given a wide range of treatment options to consider.


What is the prostate?

The prostate is a gland in the male reproductive system that is located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum. It is approximately the size and shape of a walnut and surrounds the urine channel, also known as the urethra. The prostate functions in producing fluid that makes up part of the semen.

What is prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer is a disease that affects the cells of the prostate. If the cells begin to divide when they aren’t supposed to, they can form tumors. A cancerous tumor inside the gland can block the flow of urine. If the tumor is left untreated, it may spread to local lymph nodes and other areas in the body. The cause of the disease is unknown. But a man may live for many years without knowing he has prostate cancer.

How common is prostate cancer?
  • Each year, more than 230,000 new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed in the United States.
  • On average, 1 in 6 men will develop this form of cancer in his lifetime. This makes prostate cancer the most common cancer in men, second only to skin cancer.
  • Every man over the age of 50 should know that he is at risk for developing prostate cancer. African American men and those with a family history of prostate cancer are at the highest risk.
  • With early detection and appropriate treatment, most men with early stage prostate cancer are cured. However, if the cancer is allowed to spread to other parts of the body, it may cause disability or death.