Prostate cancer is one of the leading causes of death amongst men in the USA and indeed the world – so it is important that all men have regular prostate exams to eliminate or diagnose the presence of cancer. In this guide we shall look at prostate exams and what involvement female doctors have in the process.
Who Needs a Prostate Exam?
Every male over the age of 30 should be having a prostate exam at least annually. When men reach the age of 30 they should have a baseline prostate exam to provide a comparison during subsequent exams.
If you have a history of prostate cancer in your family then you may want to have more regular prostate exams as you are more at risk.
Who can perform your Prostate Exam?
When you request a prostate exam or when your doctor suggests one then you will be offered the choice of either a male or female doctor to perform the exam.
Your choice largely depends on what you feel most comfortable with. Many men may feel uncomfortable having the exam performed by a man – while others may prefer a man. It is entirely up to you.
Ensure that if you have a preference for a male or female doctor for your prostate exam that you make this known to the person booking you in before the time of the exam.
Importance of a Prostate Exam
The importance of a prostate exam – whether by a male or female – is to look for any abnormalities that may signal prostate cancer or other problems.
Prostate cancer can quickly develop into a very painful and fatal disease. It often develops so slowly within the prostate area that a man may never notice any problems during his lifetime until it’s too late. Because of this fact it is very important to have a prostate exam so that the doctor can decide whether any cancer is present.
Another reason that prostate exams are so important is that early detection is the main factor affecting survival rates from prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer in men in the USA – and one out of six men are at risk of developing prostate cancer in their lifetime. The sooner a prostate exam is performed the sooner you can be diagnosed if cancer is present and treatment can begin. The survival rates of those who detect prostate cancer in its early stages is very high – however once it begins to spread to vital organs it can become very hard to treat and chances of survival are low.
Despite the importance of prostate exams, they cannot actually be used to diagnose cancer specifically. The prostate exam simply tells the doctor if there are any abnormalities or changes in the region, and if they are they will suggest further testing to find out whether cancer is the cause of the changes.
What does a Prostate Exam involve?
Whether you have a prostate exam with a male or female doctor, the process is the same. You will be asked to take off your clothes from the waist down and your doctor will advise you that a finger will be inserted into your rectum.
The doctor will ask you to stand up with your feet apart and leaning forward with your elbows are on the doctors couch. With a lubricated surgical glove, the doctor will insert their finger into your rectum in a downwards angle pointing towards the belly button. They will advise you beforehand that you may feel some discomfort from the procedure.
They will usually wait a couple of seconds in their while the external sphincter muscle relaxes before feeling around the area. Once it is complete the doctor will remove the finger and provide you with tissues to wipe the lubricant from the area.
During the exam the doctor is observing the size, shape and texture of the prostate and feeling for any areas that are irregular, hard or lumpy as this can signal prostate cancer and will require further testing. A prostate exam can only examine the back of the prostate, however approximately 85 percent of prostate cancers occur in this area.