Prostate exam procedure, why do you need it? It is actually of vital importance for men from certain ages, so read carefully.
The prostate exam is a topic that is often taboo among men. For many it means an invasion of privacy that they are not willing to give up. However, over time it has become more and more accepted.
The prostate is a gland that only the male sex has. It is located below the bladder and surrounds the urethra. It has the function of producing liquids that will later make up the semen.
Over the years, the prostate increases in size progressively. It is a phenomenon to which all men are subjected by age. We know that by the age of eighty, almost 70% of them have abnormal growths of the gland.
Prostate cancer is the most aggressive and deadly form of this enlarged gland. It is one of the most common cancers among men and is responsible for significant mortality.
Just as for women the Pap smear and mammography are preventive tools for oncological diseases, the same is true for men. The prostate exam is the preventive tool for males.
A prostate exam initially involves two practices: prostate antigen measurement and digital rectal examination. In the event that either or both produce altered results, the second diagnostic phase is carried out with images and prostate biopsy.
But let’s see first, before detailing each prostate exam, who should undergo them.
Indications for prostate exam procedure
It is important to clarify that the prostate exam is not for any man. Medical science has established ages and protocols to determine who benefits from tracking and who does not.
The main parameters have to do with the age of the patient:
- Over 50 years: these men need to do a prostate exam every year or every two years.
- Between 45 and 50 years: This age group get screenings if you have risk factors for prostate cancer. For example, descendants of black races or those who have had a family member with diagnosed prostate cancer.
- Under 40 years: it is rare for a person under forty years to have an indication for prostate examinations. Men with more than one close relative with prostate cancer are candidates.
When the need for the prostate exam is determined, the doctor orders a prostate antigen measurement and a rectal exam. The measurement is carried out with laboratory techniques through a blood sample and digital rectal examination, in the same office.
If the laboratory results are normal, the patient will have to repeat it in one year. In some cases, without risk factors, prostate antigen measurement can be scheduled every two years.
Prostate specific antigen or PSA
The PSA test is a constituent part of the prostate exam. It involves measuring a substance in the blood that the prostate gland produces. If there is cancer, there’s an elevation in this antigen and its detection alerts about the pathological process.
However, there may also be an elevation of PSA for other non-oncological reasons. There is an elevation in the PSA when:
- The patient underwent a transrectal ultrasound.
- Prostatis: Infections in the prostate increase PSA.
- Prostatic hypertrophy: the enlargement called benign prostatic hyperplasia also modifies the value, but in a less forceful way than cancer.
Normal baseline PSA values in men are less than 4 ng / mL. Between 4 and 10 ng / mL, there is a possibility of prostate cancer. With a PSA greater than 10, the possibility of cancer is very high.
The digital rectal exam or digital rectal exam is the other constituent part of the prostate exam. The test involves inserting an examiner’s finger through the patient’s rectum to feel the gland.
The procedure is performed with gloves and lubrication to reduce discomfort. It is suggested that the patient take a lateral position lying on the table and, if possible, in the fetal position, since they are the least uncomfortable and painful modalities.
The examiner, doctor or nurse, looks for direct palpation of the prostate gland that is near the rectum. Therefore, the doctor can reach it with this maneuver. Palpation seeks to detect any lump or hardening that is indicative of an abnormal process.
In case of detecting an anomaly, it will be suggestive of the need for more studies. Even more so if this is in combination with an elevation in your PSA result.
What to do with an abnormal prostate exam
The next step to an abnormal prostate exam is requesting imaging studies that clarify the diagnosis. The doctor may order ultrasounds and, if necessary, a biopsy of the gland.
Early detection is essential. Taken early on, this tumor is totally treatable and manageable. Health teams insist on performing the prostate exam because of its high efficacy in reducing the fatal cases of this cancer.
As men, it is essential to lose fear of this test and perform it when necessary. The annual checkup can add many years to life.
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