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Next to skin cancer, prostate cancer is the second-most common form of cancer found in American men. Like many other cancers, precautionary tests and screenings for prostate cancer are an important part of prevention and early detection.
A prostate exam is used to detect signs of prostate cancer and other conditions such as an inflamed or enlarged prostate. If you are at risk of prostate cancer, it’s important to schedule regular exams. Here’s what you can expect.
The American Cancer Society recommends that men “have a chance to make an informed decision” regarding prostate screening, including a conversation with their doctor about potential risks and benefits of cancer screening. This opportunity should come at the following life stages:
There are two different types of examinations your doctor may recommend:
If you have any conditions such as hemorrhoids, anal tears or other problems in the anus, or are taking any medications and supplements, your doctor will need to know this information prior to the exam. You should also ask your doctor if you need to abstain from sexual activity for a period of time, as recent ejaculation can affect PSA levels.
If there are concerns found with your DRE, your doctor will discuss them with you—certain factors, like an enlarged prostate, can be normal with age and may not signal a major concern.
In other cases, your doctor may recommend additional tests such as an ultrasound or a biopsy. If a PSA test is given, your doctor will go over the lab results with you and explain the readings. Every case is different, and your doctor will help determine the best course of action based on your results.
If you are at or near an age where you might need to start considering prostate exams, or if you are at a higher risk of a prostate condition, speak to your healthcare provider about your options for prostate exams.
“American Cancer Society Recommendations for Prostate Cancer Early Detection.” American Cancer Society. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostate-cancer/early-detection/acs-recommendations.html
“The Prostate Exam: What You Should Know.” Healthline.com. http://www.healthline.com/health/mens-health/how-is-a-prostate-exam-done#Overview1
“Digital Rectal Exam for Prostate Problems.” WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/prostate-cancer/guide/prostate-cancer-digital-rectal-exam
The Live Better Team
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.