'No early warning signs': It's important to keep up with prostate cancer screenings

Prostate Cancer Awareness Month is a reminder for men to take charge of their health.

One of the COVID-19 pandemic’s many lessons has been to reinforce the need to make one’s health a priority. Now, with enhanced hygiene and safety measures implemented in health care settings, physicians are encouraging patients to return for regular screening exams.

Dr. Jesse Mills, director of The Men’s Clinic at UCLA, reminds men that because “there are no early warning signs of prostate cancer,” it is even more important to get regular checkups, including a prostate exam and related blood test annually.


The good news is that early detection saves lives.

When should men start regular prostate screenings?

Men who have no family history of prostate cancer should get their first exam at around ages 50 to 55. If a man has a brother or father with prostate cancer, he should get checked earlier, around ages 45 to 50. Men of all ages who frequently urinate, experience a slow stream, or get up at night to urinate more than once should see a physician for a prostate exam and evaluation, as well.

What happens during a prostate exam?

The physician will conduct a rectal exam, palpating the prostate to check for any irregularities. Men should also have a PSA — prostate-specific antigen — blood test to help screen for prostate cancer.

What happens if the results of the exam are not normal?

Abnormalities are evaluated by a urologist who can order appropriate testing to confirm or rule out prostate cancer. UCLA Health uses sophisticated diagnostic testing, including prostate MRI, to help make an accurate diagnosis of prostate cancer.

If a man is diagnosed with prostate cancer, what is the next step?

Prostate cancer is not a one-size-fits-all disease and needs an expert urologist and team to provide individualized therapy, which could include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy or a combination approach. UCLA Health upholds continuity of care for patients; if you are diagnosed at the Men’s Clinic, for example, you are then referred to a urologic oncologist for treatment, and afterward return to the clinic for quality-of-life management and care.

How does one schedule an exam?

​To schedule an appointment, visit The Men’s Clinic at UCLA or call (310) 794-7700.

For information on UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, visit https://cancer.ucla.edu. JCCC is one of only 51 cancer centers in the U.S. designated as comprehensive by the National Cancer Institute for its state-of-the-art research focused on developing new and better approaches to preventing, diagnosing and treating cancer.