Are You A Man In His 40s Or 50s? You Should Get A Prostate Exam

It's easy to put off routine doctor visits when you don't feel ill, but if you are entering the senior years, it's time to investigate cancer screenings. Very Well Health says that prostrate cancer is the most frequently seen cancer in men—but if caught early, it's very treatable. Read on to learn more about this cancer, how it's screened, and how to reduce your risks.

What is Prostate Cancer?

The prostate gland is part of a male's reproductive system and helps to produce seminal fluid. The gland sits beneath your bladder and surrounds part of the urethra. Like other cancers, prostate cancer occurs when cells mutate and divide uncontrollably to the point that they destroy healthy body tissues. Men who develop this cancer often have

  • Painful urination
  • Weak urine flow
  • Nocturia
  • Anemia
  • Pelvis pain

Why Are Screenings Important?

As men age, their prostate tends to naturally enlarge. Sometimes an enlarged prostate can cause benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a condition that can cause kidney stones and a painful/blocked urethra. It's important to get screenings since some of the symptoms of BPH are similar to prostate cancer. While BPH is not fatal and cannot spread, prostate cancer can metastasize and be fatal if not dealt with early on.

How is Prostate Cancer Screened?

There are two main screening methods: prostate-specific antigen testing (PSA) and digital rectal examinations (DRE).

PSA is a type of protein produced by the prostate gland. If a man develops cancer, his PSA levels tend to be a lot higher since this protein leaks into the bloodstream. If your bloodwork comes back clean, then your doctor likely won't need to order a biopsy or further testing.

Digital rectal screenings can be done during your yearly physical. With a gloved hand, your primary care physician will insert a lubricated finger into the rectum. This physical screening can help the doctor check the size of the prostate gland. As you can imagine, many men are uncomfortable with this option, so if you are one of these people, opt for the PSA testing.

Keep in mind though that rectal screenings aren't painful—as long as you don't have anal fissure or hemorrhoids.

How Can You Reduce Your Risks?

Some people inherit gene mutations, such as BRCA1, BRCA2, and HOXB13. Have DNA testing done to see if you have these hereditary mutations. If so, you may want to have cancer screenings done more frequently. If you don't have gene mutations, it's still important to get screenings done and do what you can to lower your risk factors. For example, eating a healthy diet, exercising, and reducing your alcohol intake are all important. Although smoking is often correlated with lung cancer, it can increase your risk of other cancers—so cut back if you can.

Contact prostate cancer specialists in your area for more information on screenings and treatment.