The Importance of Prostate Cancer Testing: Know Your Number
Patient Case

Jason is a 46-year-old man who went to see his doctor because he was suffering from a sinus infection. He does not have annual physical examinations – this visit was the first time he was at his doctor’s office in nearly six years.

As the visit was wrapping up, the doctor asked if there was anything else that he could help with. Jason hesitated at first, but then mentioned that a friend in his early 50s was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer and he asked if he should be tested at some point.

The physician said that there was indeed some testing that can be done to help assess Jason’s chances of developing prostate cancer. He then looked into Jason’s history in a little more detail: Jason does not have any major risk factors and he does not recall any major health concern with his father or brothers. He does, however, remember that when he was younger, his uncle died rather suddenly at age 58 from cancer.

The doctor explained to Jason that experts recommend a PSA test for all men in their 40s, to establish a baseline level (i.e., in line with Prostate Cancer Canada’s Know Your Number recommendations). The doctor also explained that Jason’s history does not suggest that he is at high risk of prostate cancer but, nonetheless, all men are at risk for this common cancer. Also, although Jason does not know what kind of cancer his uncle died of, there is the possibility that it was prostate cancer.

The doctor explained that depending on the result of the initial testing (more than one test is usually required), they will be able to come up with a future plan for follow up (e.g., PSA test every year or every other year once he reaches his 50s).

Jason’s doctor went on to say that prostate cancer is highly treatable, with very high survival rates for disease detected in its early stages: having regular screening done as part of routine check-ups will help ensure that if problems do develop, they are detected and treated in a timely manner.

Click here to see a video of the interaction between Jason and his physician.