A urologist at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston suggests men who get prostate-specific antigen tests should track the results.
Dr. John W. Davis, an assistant professor, says the PSA test is a simple blood test that measures the amount of PSA -- a protein produced by the cells of the prostate gland in a man's bloodstream -- that men usually get beginning at age 40.
"Recent reports have debated the usefulness of the PSA test, but men should not write off this exam," Davis says in a statement. "It's still an effective way to track trends in your prostate over time."
The M.D. Anderson Cancer Center recommends men age 50 and older, with no family history of prostate cancer, get a prostate cancer screening exam annually, but African-American men and men with a family history of prostate cancer should be screened beginning at age 45.
"If you decide to do the PSA test after talking to your doctor, start tracking your PSA levels as soon as you begin testing," Davis says. He suggests to:
-- Download M.D. Anderson's PSA tracking tool at www.mdanderson.org/focusedonhealth as an easy way to track PSA levels.
-- Note the testing standard used to find your PSA level each year.
-- Ask the doctor for the actual PSA number. Don't just record the results as normal or elevated.