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When To Start Having Prostate Exams

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When Should You Get Your First Prostate Exam

What to Expect from a Prostate Exam

In 30 seconds

The answer to when you should get your first prostate exam depends on your medical history and genetic predisposition.

Your prostate grows throughout your life, which means youre more likely to experience problems as you age.

Prostate cancer is often symptomless, but if you feel unwell, consult a doctor: identifying whats wrong will help you get the right treatment.

First off, what is a prostate? This is a walnut-sized gland located below the bladder, near your rectum. It secretes fluid that becomes part of semen, helping to carry sperm. has two main growth phases first in puberty, and the second from around age 25, continuing at a rate of 14% increase each decade.

Sometimes the prostate can become enlarged enough to cause problems or as a result of related health issues. The most common prostate problems are:

  • Prostatitis: when your prostate becomes inflamed as a result of an infection
  • Benign prostatic hyperplasia : an overly enlarged prostate
  • Prostate cancer

The recommended age for a prostate exam takes into account the fact the prostate grows throughout adulthood, but BPH, prostatitis and prostate cancer can affect you at any age. Below, well outline what to look out for, when to get a prostate exam, and what that entails.

Two Main Screening Tests

There are two tests commonly used to screen for prostate cancer:

  • The Digital Rectal Exam : A doctor or nurse inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to estimate the size of the prostate and feel for lumps or other abnormalities.
  • The Prostate Specific Antigen Test: This exam measures the level of PSA in the blood. The levels of PSA in the blood are often higher in men who have prostate cancer. The PSA level may also be high in other conditions that affect the prostate.Usually, the higher the bloods PSA level is, the more likely it is that a prostate problem is present. But other factors, such as age and race, also can raise PSA levels. PSA levels also can be impacted by certain medical procedures, some medications, an enlarged prostate or a prostate infection.

    Since your PSA level may be high for other reasons, your doctor will need to interpret the test results.

If the results of the PSA and/or DRE suggest that you might have prostate cancer, your doctor will need to do a prostate biopsy to find out. This means a sample of your prostate tissue will be removed with a needle and sent to a lab, where a specialist will determine if it contains cancer cells.

At What Age Should You Get Screened For Prostate Cancer

The following prostate cancer screening guidelines apply to men expected to live at least ten years.

Men ages 45 to 49 should have a baseline PSA test.

  • If the PSA level is 3 ng / mL or higher, men should talk with their doctor about having a biopsy of the prostate.
  • If the PSA level is between 1 and 3 ng / mL, men should see their doctor for another PSA test every two to four years.
  • If the PSA level is less than 1 ng / mL, men should see their doctor for another PSA test between the ages of 51 and 55.

Men ages 50 to 59 should have their PSA level checked.

  • If the PSA level is 3 ng / mL or higher, men should talk with their doctor about having a biopsy of the prostate.
  • If the PSA level is between 1 and 3 ng / mL, men should see their doctor for another PSA test every two to four years.
  • If the PSA level is less than 1 ng / mL, men should see their doctor for another PSA test at age 60.

Men ages 60 to 70 should have their PSA level checked.

  • If the PSA level is 3 ng / mL or higher, men should talk with their doctor about having a biopsy of the prostate.
  • If the PSA level is between 1 and 3 ng / mL, men should see their doctor for another PSA test every two to four years.
  • If the PSA level is less than 1 ng / mL, no further screening is recommended.

Men ages 71 to 75 should talk with their doctor about whether to have a PSA test. This decision should be based on past PSA levels and the health of the man.

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Who Should Get A Digital Rectal Exam

Not all medical institutions agree on when men should begin screening for prostate cancer or even if a DRE should be part of the screening.

To help detect prostate cancer in its early stages, the American Cancer Society recommends that men talk to their doctors about the benefits, risks, and limitations of prostate cancer screening before deciding whether to be tested.

For most men at average risk, discussions about screening begin at age 50. However, some doctors recommend that men at higher risk of prostate cancer African-American men or men with a family history of prostate cancer start screening earlier.

What Age Should I Start Getting A Prostate Exam

How Is a Prostate Exam Done?

For African-American men and men with a family history of prostate cancer, it is recommended that tests be given starting at age 40. If you have urination problems or if the DRE or PSA test indicates that you might have a problem, you will probably be given additional tests that may require some preparation.

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When Is A Psa Test Needed

If you are age 50 to 74, you should discuss the PSA test with your doctor. Ask about the possible risks and benefits.

Men under 50 or over 75 rarely need a PSA test, unless they have a high risk for prostate cancer.

  • You are more likely to get prostate cancer if you have a family history of prostate cancer, especially in a close relative such as a parent or sibling.
  • Your risks are higher if your relative got prostate cancer before age 60 or died from it before age 75. These early cancers are more likely to grow faster.
  • If you have these risks, you may want to ask your doctor about getting the PSA test before age 50.

This report is for you to use when talking with your healthcare provider. It is not a substitute for medical advice and treatment. Use of this report is at your own risk.

04/2014

About Author: Ken Harris

Ken Harris is the proudest father and a writing coordinator for the Marketing & Communications division of OSF HealthCare.He has a bachelor’s in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and worked as a daily newspaper reporter for four years before leaving the field and eventually finding his way to OSF HealthCare.In his free time, Ken likes reading, fly fishing, hanging out with his dog and generally pestering his lovely, patient wife.

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Prostate Exam Age: When Do You Need One

The prostate gland is essential for males.

It is essential to increase semen volume and facilitate the job of sperm cells.

It is located around the urethra, leaning against the rectum and below the urinary bladder.

Prostate problems are increasingly more common as we age.

They cause symptoms such as slow urinary stream, dribbling after urinating, increase in urinary frequency, urinary retention.

But when is the right time to start getting prostate exams?

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What it’s like to go for a rectal screening for prostate cancer

Do you need an annual prostate exam? Probably not. This mostly depends on your age and if youre high risk. You may not look forward to Prostate Cancer Awareness Month like you do the Grey Cup. Still, every year the September-long event does highlight a wide range of great tips for keeping your prostate and the rest of you healthy and getting a prostate exam tops the list if youre in a high-risk category. Oh, and doctors always remove their rings while performing the exams.

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Can A Swollen Prostate If Untreated Cause Prostate Cancer

We have no evidence of that. Theyre completely unrelated problems. The area of the prostate that causes urinary symptoms is usually a different part of the prostate than where cancer is likeliest to develop.

Doctors divide the prostate into different zones. The zone that is associated with BPHand the majority of prostate growthis the transition zone. Prostate cancer occurs there much less often than in the peripheral zone, which is the outer area.

What Are The Risks Of A Prostate Exam

In the medical community, there is some controversy regarding the risks and benefits of a prostate exam. When a DRE is performed and irregularity is detected, 50% of the time there is prostate cancer and 50% of the time there isnt. The risk, then, becomes over-treatment.

Although not a physical health risk, the possibility of further testing, such as a prostate biopsy or an MRI of the prostate, can be anxiety-provoking.

Overall, the benefits highly outweigh the risks. Patients should discuss the pros and cons of prostate cancer screening with their physician to make the best decision for their health.

As men age, they can face physical, sexual and medical health concerns that have an impact on their everyday lives. Making healthy lifestyle choices, like exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet, along with regular checkups and screening tests can help prevent or lead to early treatment of many men’s health threats.

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What Does Prostate Cancer Screening Entail

There are two types of prostate cancer screening exams and both should be done in conjunction with the other: A digital rectal exam and a prostate-specific antigen blood test .

A DRE is a physical exam in which the physician lubricates a gloved finger to gently examine the patients rectum. If it is enlarged or irregular in shape, the doctor will be able to easily detect it. While it may be uncomfortable, the test brief and can be life-saving.

A PSA test is a blood test that measures the level of prostate-specific antigens in the blood. Rising levels of PSA can be one of the first signs of prostate cancer, allowing for early detection and treatment.

What Are We Looking For

First Prostate Exam Stock Photo

Many men experience issues with their prostate gland as they age. The symptoms for benign prostate enlargement and prostate cancer are very similar – most men present first with urinary issues. When your prostate has simply enlarged the surface is usually smooth. We begin to suspect prostate cancer when the surface is hard and lumpy. It’s a key difference and the best way to find out is via a rectal exam.

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What To Expect During Your Prostate Exam

If you’ve been avoiding a prostate exam, you could be putting your health at risk. Knowing the facts about the procedure will help put any fears, concerns, or squeamishness to rest.

If you’re a man older than 40 and have not yet had a prostate exam, it’s a good time to talk to your doctor. If you’re also African American or have a family history of prostate cancer, it’s a really good time. One of six men eventually gets a prostate cancer diagnosis. And even though most men have a slow-growing type, prostate cancer is still the leading cause of cancer deaths in men older than 75. So if you’re afraid of a prostate exam, it’s time get over it and protect your prostate health.

“Start talking about your prostate care plan at age 40, and if you and your doctor think the time is right, get a digital rectal exam and a PSA blood test during your annual physical,” suggests Dan Zenka, senior vice president of the Prostate Cancer Foundation and a prostate cancer survivor who was diagnosed at age 51 in 2010.

What to Expect During a Primary Care Prostate Health Exam

Your doctor will probably start by asking you if you have any prostate health symptoms like a weak urine stream, dribbling, straining to urinate, or blood in your sperm or urine. Your doctor may also ask if you have a father or a brother with prostate cancer – and if the doctor doesn’t ask, volunteer the information.

Here are the two tests that will be done:

What to Expect if You Need a Prostate Cancer Exam

Prostate Cancer Screening Ages 40 To 54

The PSA test is a blood test that measures how much of a particular protein is in your blood. Its been the standardfor prostate cancer screening for 30 years.

Your doctor will consider many factors before suggesting when to startprostate cancer screening. But hell probably start by recommending the PSAtest.

While the general guidelines recommend starting at age 55, you may need PSAscreening between the ages of 40 and 54 if you:

  • Have at least one first-degree relative who has had prostate cancer
  • Have at least two extended family members who have had prostate cancer
  • Are African-American, an ethnicity that has a higher risk of developing more aggressive cancers

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This examination lasts 15 to 20 seconds, according to Ehdaie, and is uncomfortable but not painful. Rettig noted that on its own, the digital exam is not going to add very much, but can be paired with the blood test to give a full picture of the patients health situation.

After that exam is completed and the bloodwork is done, the results are evaluated together.

A decision would be made to either pursue further tests because the screenings suggest there may be something that would be of concern, or they would return at the next scheduled , Ehdaie said.

Related:

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When Is It Time To Stop Being Checked For Prostate Cancer

Can You Walk Us Through the Process of a Rectal Exam for Prostate Cancer?

Image: Thinkstock

Its essential to be fully informed about the potential risks of PSA testing, which includecomplications from biopsies and teratments.

The answer depends on your current health and your level of concern about cancer.

Routine PSA testing to check for prostate cancer is no longer recommended for most men. But despite what the experts suggest, many men continue to opt for annual PSA tests. This includes a surprisingly large number of men in their 70s. In a recent study in the journal Cancer, more than half of a group of men 75 and older had PSA tests and biopsies.

These men have placed their hope in the value of early diagnosis and treatment, yet stand to gain less from PSA testing than younger men. Across all ages, routine PSA screening leads to life-saving treatment for cancer in about one in every 1,000 men screened.

Force guidelines: These independent experts on preventive medicine do not recommend PSA screening for prostate cancer in men at any age, due to a lack of definitive evidence that the benefits of PSA testing are greater than the risks.

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What To Expect During The Exam

You can get a prostate exam easily and quickly at your doctors office. Generally, for cancer screenings, your doctor will take a simple blood test.

Your doctor might also choose to perform a DRE. Before performing this exam, your doctor will ask you to change into a gown, removing your clothing from the waist down.

During a DRE, your doctor will ask you to bend over at the waist or lie on the exam table in a fetal position, with your knees to your chest. They will then insert a gloved, lubricated finger into your rectum.

Your doctor will feel for anything abnormal, such as bumps or hard or soft areas that might indicate a problem. Your doctor may also be able to feel if your prostate is enlarged.

A digital rectal exam can be uncomfortable, especially if you have hemorrhoids, but isnt overly painful. It will last only a couple of minutes.

A DRE is one of your doctors tools that can help them detect several prostate and rectal problems, including:

  • BPH
  • prostate cancer
  • abnormal masses in your rectum and anus

Your doctor will be able to tell immediately if there are any areas of concern that may warrant further testing.

The results of a DRE exam are either normal or abnormal, but doctors typically rely on several different tests to help them make a prostate cancer diagnosis.

If your doctor feels something abnormal during the DRE, they will probably recommend getting a PSA blood test, if you havent done so already.

  • transrectal ultrasound

Why Should I Get Both Prostate Cancer Screenings

Both screenings provide valuable information about your health that can detect prostate cancer, even at an early stage. One result without the other may not provide enough indication of whether or not treatment is necessary.

There are many reasons why a mans prostate may be enlarged, and prostate cancer is only one. When paired with a PSA blood test, results can better indicate whether further testing is needed to determine a diagnosis.

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Prostate Specific Antigen Test

A blood test called a prostate specific antigen test measures the level of PSA in the blood. PSA is a substance made by the prostate. The levels of PSA in the blood can be higher in men who have prostate cancer. The PSA level may also be elevated in other conditions that affect the prostate.

As a rule, the higher the PSA level in the blood, the more likely a prostate problem is present. But many factors, such as age and race, can affect PSA levels. Some prostate glands make more PSA than others.

PSA levels also can be affected by

  • Certain medical procedures.

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