The American Cancer Society strongly recommends regular prostate exams starting as early as age 40, depending on your cancer risk. Prostate exams at Urology Associates of Mobile and smart lifestyle choices are excellent, proactive ways to prevent prostate cancer.
Questions and Answers
What is a Prostate Exam?
A prostate exam is a medical exam conducted by your urology specialist. Prostate exams typically include two main components, a digital rectal exam and a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test.
Digital Rectal Exam: In a digital rectal exam, your urologist places a lubricated and gloved finger into your rectum. They gently push your prostate with one hand while checking the pelvic area with the other.
PSA Test: This blood test checks your levels of PSA, a protein your prostate produces. It’s normal to have a tiny amount of PSA in your blood. Because your prostate grows as you age, your PSA levels can rise slightly as well. Higher-than-normal PSA levels are often a sign of prostate problems, and some kinds of prostate cancer.
Prostate exams help your doctor diagnose problems like benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), prostate inflammation (prostatitis), and prostate cancer.
When Should I Have a Prostate Exam?
If you’re having symptoms of prostate problems, such as urinary difficulties, blood in your urine (hematuria), or pain during ejaculation, you likely need a prostate exam as part of the diagnostic process.
Prostate exams are also part of regular prostate cancer screening for men as they age. Most men start prostate cancer screening between the ages of 40 and 50, although the starting age varies according to personal risk factors.
After your initial prostate cancer screening, your urologist determines how often you need a prostate exam based on your PSA levels, age, and other factors.
How Do I Prepare for a Prostate Exam?
Our team will give you specific preparation guidelines ahead of time. You may need to temporarily abstain from sexual activity for a short period prior to the test.
If you’re taking any medication, inform your urologist ahead of time since some drugs can impact exam results. If you’re experiencing any uncomfortable or painful issues like hemorrhoids or anal fissures, tell your doctor so they can take extra precautions to keep you comfortable during the digital rectal exam.
Our team offers gentle and efficient prostate exams. Call the office nearest you to book an appointment.