What To Expect During A Prostate Exam
It’s understandable that most men tense up at even the mere mention of a prostate exam. The prospect may leave some men with a feeling of dread and outright fear. In fact, this feeling can lead to some men putting off that exam or avoiding it altogether. While the disease can be slow-growing, prostate cancer is still the leading cause of cancer deaths in men older than 75. However, knowing what to expect when it’s time for your first prostate exam can help you to prepare, relax and ease your anxiety about the procedure. So if you’re afraid of a prostate exam, it’s time you move past your fear and protect your prostate health!
The Prostate Exam Procedure
Your doctor will likely begin by asking if you are currently experiencing any prostate health related symptoms such as a weak urine stream, dribbling or straining to urinate. Your doctor may also inquire as to whether your family has a history with prostate cancer, and if the doctor doesn’t ask, volunteer the information. Here are the two tests that will be done:
- Digital rectal exam (DRE): A digital rectal exam (DRE) is a clinical examination of the prostate gland by way of the rectum to check for any abnormalities and is an essential element in screening for and identifying prostate cancer. While the exam can be uncomfortable, if not a little undignifying, a rectal exam shouldn’t hurt.
- PSA blood test: A visit for a prostate exam may also involve a blood test, The PSA test is a blood test which is used primarily to screen for prostate cancer. The test measures for the amount of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in your blood which is a protein produced by both cancerous and noncancerous tissue in the prostate. Following the completion of the blood test it may take a few days to get the results.
What Your Doctor Is Looking For In A Prostate Exam
During the DRE, your doctor will move their finger in a circular motion in order to identify the lobes and groove of the prostate gland to identify any abnormalities. With the PSA test your doctor will be looking for the presence of PSA in your blood.
Tips For Your Prostate Exam
A rectal examination will usually take anywhere from one to five minutes to complete, depending on whether your doctor finds anything unusual. Here are a few tips to help you get through your examination:
- Prior to the exam let your doctor know if you have hemorrhoids.
- Breathe slowly in and out through your mouth. Don’t hold your breath.
- Detach and try to relax.
Following the exam, you’ll get some tissue to clean up with and some privacy to get dressed before discussing the results with your doctor. If your doctor does find any areas of concern, additional testing may be required. You can resume your usual activities immediately following a DRE with only slight bleeding from the rectum afterward.