While it is not a fun procedure, prostate exams are an important part of keeping your health in check. In this guide we shall look at the importance of prostate exams for men.
What is looked for in a Prostate Exam
A prostate exam, also referred to as a digital rectal exam, involves a doctor or healthcare professional inserting a lubricated finger into the rectum.
During this procedure they will be looking for any abnormalities in the prostate including hard spots, bumps and lumps. If any abnormalities are found the doctor will generally request further testing to be done.
While a prostate exam cannot indicate to the doctor what is wrong – it does help them to find abnormalities so further testing can be completed.
Why are Prostate Exams Important
If you are aged over 50, prostate exams become incredibly important as they help catch any problems in their earliest stages when they can still be treated. Even just a small infection in the prostate can quickly develop into a very serious problem.
Prostate cancer develops very slowly within the prostate and men can go for many years without noticing any symptoms and only get diagnosed when it’s too late. By detecting prostate cancer early on the survival rates are very high and the treatment is much less invasive.
Fortunately, prostate cancer is one of the most treatable forms of cancer, and the survival rate when caught early is close to 100 percent.
The older you are the more prone to diseases such as prostate cancer you become. Therefore, it becomes increasingly important to have regular prostate exams.
Prostate exams are not pleasant; however their benefits significantly outweigh the discomfort during the exam. To truly understand the importance of prostate exams for men – we need to look at the risks of developing prostate cancer.
What are the risks of Prostate Cancer in Men
Prostate cancer is very common in men – and in fact 1 in 6 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime.
The average age that men develop prostate cancer is 68, however after the age of 50 the risks increase quite drastically. There are very few prostate cancer cases in men under the age of 40.
A 20 year old man for example has approximately a 2 percent chance of developing prostate cancer compared to an 83 percent chance in an 80 year old man. As the chance of developing prostate cancer increases – so should the regularity of prostate exams.
With such high probability of developing prostate cancer – the importance of a prostate exam is clear.
Who is most at risk of Prostate Cancer
There are some factors that can put some men more at risk than others – meaning that the importance of a prostate exam is even more obvious.
As well as age factors such as heredity, family history, race and lifestyle all can put men more at risk of prostate cancer. African-American men, for example, are at a much higher risk of prostate cancer than white Americans.
Those with a long family history of prostate cancer are also much more at risk than those who do not.
While you cannot control some factors such as family history and race, you can control your diet and lifestyle. Obesity is strongly linked to cases of prostate cancer, but by maintaining a healthy diet and active lifestyle you can put yourself less at risk of prostate cancer – and many other cancers and diseases.
What other problems can be found during a Prostate Exam?
Many men think that a prostate exam is simply for checking for prostate cancer – however there are many other reasons for a prostate exam that can be just as important.
Prostate exams can be used to inspect and evaluate hemorrhoids, and can also be used to diagnosis prostatic disorders such as tumors and benign prostatic hyperplasia. For those that have fecal incontinence or neurologic disease, prostate exams can be used to estimate the tonicity of the anal sphincter.
The importance of a prostate exam for men cannot be stressed enough – with prostate cancer killing thousands of men in the USA alone each year there is no excuse not to have a prostate exam – both for your peace of mind and that of your family’s.