What is prostate cancer, and how is a PSA test done?
The prostate is located inside your body, above your penis. Prostate cancer means that a malignant (cancerous) tumour is growing in your prostate. It is possible to discover prostate cancer with a PSA test.
The PSA test can show that something has changed in your prostate. Certain changes are not dangerous, whilst other changes can lead to prostate cancer.
How to take a PSA test
You can take a PSA test at your primary healthcare centre (vårdcentral) or at a hospital. The healthcare personnel will take a blood sample through your arm, in order to find out whether anything about the prostate has changes. In that case, you may need to undergo further tests and examinations.
Who is offered a test?
Are you a man between the age of 50 and 68? Then you can get tested for the disease prostate cancer. In that case, you will get a letter in the mail.
This is what the letter says:
- It tells you why it is good to take a PSA test and what can be bad.
- It tells you what to do if you want to take a PSA test.
It can take a few years before you are called for testing. Many people are given the same offer. That is why everyone is invited at different times.
Would you like to get tested? This is what you do:
- Go to your health centre or a hospital.
- Bring the letter you received in the post. Also bring identification, for example an ID card, driving licence or passport.
- Show the letter at reception and say that you want to give a PSA sample. The staff will help you.
The PSA test is free of charge.
You will be offered to get tested regularly
If you agree to provide a PSA sample, you will then be offered an opportunity to take the PSA test on a regular basis, every few years, continuing up to and including the year you turn 74. Prostate cancer is most often not dangerous for those who are older than 74 years.
It is also unusual to develop prostate cancer if you are younger than 50 years old. For that reason, you will also not be offered the opportunity to get tested before your 50th birthday.
Getting tested is your decision
Have you been offered the opportunity to take a PSA test? In that case, it’s important that you read the following information. There are both advantages and disadvantages associated with taking a PSA test. You therefore need to decide whether or not you wish to take the PSA test.
What are the advantages of taking the test?
Prostate cancer can be dangerous and you may not notice the illness at first. That’s why it’s good to take PSA tests regularly. A PSA test can find prostate cancer before the cancer spreads through your body and becomes dangerous. With earlier detection, it is easier to treat the cancer and you have a better chance of regaining your health.
What are the disadvantages of taking the PSA test?
Prostate cancer doesn’t always develop into something dangerous. The malignant tumour may grow slowly within the prostate, and not spread through your body. In that case, you do not need to be treated.
But the PSA test doesn’t always show whether the cancer is really dangerous. You may thus find out that you have cancer, even though the cancer may not be dangerous. You may also be treated for prostate cancer even though this may not be necessary. This occurs more frequently than cases in which the doctor finds and treats dangerous cancer.
The treatment can cause you to have symptoms that you didn’t previously have. Certain symptoms may improve or completely disappear. Other symptoms may remain with you for the rest of your life.
Here are some examples of symptoms:
- You may need to urinate more often.
- It may be difficult for you to get an erection.
- You can have incontinence problems.
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You can ask to be tested
What if you have not been offered the opportunity to take the prostate cancer test? If you want to take the PSA test, you can simply contact your primary healthcare centre (vårdcentral). It is important that you read the section about why it is beneficial to take the PSA test, and what negative consequences may occur.
You must then meet with a doctor at the primary healthcare centre. The doctor will examine you and decide whether it is advisable for you to take the PSA test. In that case, the doctor will also arrange for you to take the PSA test.
Seek treatment if you believe that you have prostate cancer
You should seek treatment if you believe that you have prostate cancer.
Contact your primary healthcare centre if you find yourself experiencing one of the following situations:
- You encounter difficulties in urinating, or need to urinate more often.
- When you urinate, the urine flow, at times, has been slow.
- You’ve found blood in your urine.
- You’ve found blood in your semen more than once during a period of three months.
- It hurts somewhere in your bones, and you don’t know the reason for the pain. You also have not previously felt pain of that nature. You experience pain both when you are moving and when you are at rest.
Have two or more of your relatives developed prostate cancer prior to having turned 75 years old? In that case, you should contact your primary healthcare centre and request an examination.
Do you have any questions?
Do you have any questions about what you’ve read here? In that case, please call the Prostate Cancer Centre of Skåne at 040-33 53 98.
You can call between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m., from Monday to Thursday.