Course Content
1. Introduction to Prostate Cancer
o Understanding the prostate gland o Overview of prostate cancer o Risk factors and epidemiology
2. Signs and Symptoms
o Common signs and symptoms o When to seek medical attention o Diagnostic tests and screening guidelines
3. Diagnosis and Staging
o Biopsy procedures and interpretation o Staging techniques (TNM system) o Imaging modalities for staging
6. Nutrition and Lifestyle Considerations
o Diet and nutrition recommendations o Exercise and physical activity guidelines o Stress management techniques
Understanding Prostate Cancer: Online Course for Patients & Caregivers
About Lesson


Early detection plays a crucial role in effectively managing prostate cancer and improving patient outcomes. Understanding the diagnostic tests and screening guidelines for prostate cancer is essential for timely detection and appropriate management of the disease.

Diagnostic Tests:

  1. Digital Rectal Exam (DRE):

    • A physical examination in which a healthcare provider inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to feel for abnormalities in the prostate gland, such as lumps, nodules, or asymmetry. While DRE alone cannot definitively diagnose prostate cancer, it can provide valuable information about the size, shape, and texture of the prostate gland.
  2. Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Test:

    • A blood test that measures the levels of PSA, a protein produced by the prostate gland. Elevated PSA levels may indicate the presence of prostate cancer, although PSA levels can also be elevated due to benign conditions such as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or prostatitis.
  3. Transrectal Ultrasound (TRUS):

    • An imaging test in which a probe is inserted into the rectum to produce high-frequency sound waves that create images of the prostate gland. TRUS may be used to guide prostate biopsy procedures and assess the size and characteristics of prostate tumors.
  4. Prostate Biopsy:

    • A procedure in which small samples of prostate tissue are collected using a needle guided by ultrasound imaging. These tissue samples are examined under a microscope to confirm the presence of cancerous cells and determine the grade and stage of the cancer.

Screening Guidelines:

  1. American Cancer Society (ACS) Guidelines:

    • The ACS recommends that men have an opportunity to make an informed decision about whether to be screened for prostate cancer starting at age 50 for average-risk men. For men at higher risk, such as African American men or those with a family history of prostate cancer, screening discussions should take place at age 45.
    • The decision to undergo prostate cancer screening should be based on individual preferences, risk factors, and discussions with healthcare providers.
  2. United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) Recommendations:

    • The USPSTF recommends against routine PSA-based screening for prostate cancer in average-risk men of all ages. The task force cites concerns about the potential harms of screening, including overdiagnosis and overtreatment of indolent (low-grade) tumors.
    • However, the USPSTF acknowledges that the decision to undergo screening should be individualized and based on discussions between patients and healthcare providers.

Online Resources for Further Learning:

Explore the following online resources to learn more about diagnostic tests and screening guidelines for prostate cancer:

End of Topic Quiz:

  1. Which of the following diagnostic tests involves the insertion of a probe into the rectum to produce images of the prostate gland?

    • A) Digital Rectal Exam (DRE)
    • B) Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Test
    • C) Transrectal Ultrasound (TRUS)
    • D) Prostate Biopsy

    Answer: C) Transrectal Ultrasound (TRUS)

  2. At what age does the American Cancer Society recommend starting discussions about prostate cancer screening for average-risk men?

    • A) Age 40
    • B) Age 45
    • C) Age 50
    • D) Age 55

    Answer: C) Age 50

Takeaway Assignment:

Design a decision aid or informational brochure summarizing the pros and cons of prostate cancer screening based on the recommendations of the American Cancer Society and the United States Preventive Services Task Force. Include information about the different screening tests, potential benefits and harms, and factors to consider when making an informed decision about screening. Distribute the decision aid or brochure to healthcare providers’ offices and community health centers to facilitate discussions about prostate cancer screening with patients.

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