Generally, men don’t like to talk about prostate exams. We like to pretend it doesn’t happen or we make a quip about the slapping sound of a rubber glove and leave the rest up to the imagination. Even though we shift in our seats over the mere thought of it,it doesn’t take away from the importance of getting routinely examined.
September Reminds the Public to Keep Prostate Health in Check
September is Prostate Awareness Month and it is aimed at increasing public knowledge about prostate health. So, why the big fuss over the prostate that it garners a whole month of awareness? Simply put, prostate cancer is one of the most prevalent cancers in men, second to skin cancer. One in 15 men over the age of 60 will be diagnosed with it and one in seven men will develop it in their lifetime. The good news is that it is easy to treat if the cancer is caught in the early stages before symptoms are present.
Who Needs a Prostate Exam?
Before you run out and make an appointment to get screened it is important to know who is at risk for developing prostate cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, men 60 or older are at the highest risk and should get checked annually. Men 45 years of age who are of African American descent or have an immediate family member who has been diagnosed with prostate cancer should be screened annually. Men 40 years of age who have had more than one family member diagnosed with prostate cancer should be screened routinely.
The go-to test for prostate cancer is the digital rectal exam (DRE). It consists of a lubricated, gloved finger inserted into the rectum and physically examining the prostate for any lumps, pain or swelling. Along with the DRE there are lab tests, which can be used for screening as well. For example, the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test uses blood work to look for the PSA protein, which is a positive indicator for an enlarged prostate or prostate cancer. Every man’s fear of needles has suddenly vanished with the thought of skipping the DRE, but most doctors will use both tests to be conclusive. Sorry, guys.
Once detected, prostate cancer treatment is highly effective and the outcome is typically positive, depending on its early detection. The best way to ensure your prostate has a long happy life, just like you, is to speak to your health care provider and let them know you want to be proactive in your prostate health.