Is It Time for a Prostate Exam? How to Tell if You’re at Risk

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The prostate is a small gland located below the bladder in men. Its main function is to produce semen, which carries sperm from the testicles during ejaculation. The prostate can be affected by various conditions such as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), prostatitis, and prostate cancer. Regular check-ups are essential to maintaining good prostate health. Here’s what you need to know about getting a prostate exam:

Who Should Get a Prostate Exam?

Men over 40 years old should consider having regular prostate exams. However, certain factors increase your risk of developing prostate problems, including family history, race, diet, lifestyle choices, and age. If any of these apply to you, it may be time to schedule an appointment with your doctor:

Family History – Having a close relative who has been diagnosed with prostate cancer increases your risk of developing the disease.

Race – African American men have a higher incidence rate of prostate cancer than other races.

Diet – A high-fat diet that includes processed meats and dairy products has been linked to increased rates of BPH and prostate cancer.

Lifestyle Choices – Smoking, lack of exercise, and obesity can contribute to poor prostate health.

How Often Should You Have a Prostate Exam?

The frequency of prostate exams varies depending on your age and overall health status. Generally speaking, men between ages 55 and 69 should get screened every two years. Men over 70 or those with a family history of prostate cancer may benefit from more frequent checks. Your doctor will determine how often you should come in based on your individual needs.

What Happens During a Prostate Exam?

A digital rectal exam (DRE) is the most common method used to examine the prostate. During this procedure, your doctor inserts a gloved finger into your rectum to feel the size and shape of your prostate through the wall of the rectum. This allows them to detect any abnormalities or changes in texture that could indicate a problem. Additionally, your doctor may also perform a blood test called a PSA (prostate-specific antigen) level to measure the amount of protein produced by the prostate gland. High levels of PSA can indicate inflammation or cancer.

Understanding Your Prostate Exam Results

If your DRE reveals any abnormalities, your doctor may recommend further testing, such as a biopsy or imaging studies like ultrasound or MRI. These tests help confirm whether there is cancer present and determine its stage and severity. After reviewing all results, your doctor will discuss treatment options with you, which may include medications, surgery, radiation therapy, or active surveillance.

Taking Care of Your Prostate Health

In addition to regular check-ups, there are several things you can do to promote better prostate health. Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can reduce your risk of developing prostate issues. Staying physically active and avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can also improve your overall health and wellbeing. Remember, prevention is key when it comes to maintaining optimal prostate health.

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