In the USA prostate cancer is somewhat of a hot topic as people are becoming much more aware of the seriousness of this disease and the importance of regular prostate exams. In this guide we shall look at some of the professional recommendations surrounding prostate exams.
Recommendations for the Early Detection of Prostate Cancer
Recommendations vary between organizations – some believe routine prostate exams are essential in the early detection of prostate cancer whereas others take a different stance. The American Cancer Society, for example, does not support routine testing for prostate cancer. Instead, they recommend that healthcare professionals should speak with male patients about the potential benefits and limitations of prostate exams before any testing begins.
After that, the doctor will give the patient an option to have either a digital rectal examination or a prostate-specific antigen blood test. Only if the men agree with the testing should it then proceed.
Many other large cancer-related organizations such as the American Urological Association and the American College of Physicians all agree that men should discuss the benefits, side effects and ask questions about prostate exams before making an informed decision as to whether a prostate exam is required based on their personal risk and situation.
The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPST) has recently released a study that shows that the risk of prostate exams far outweigh the benefits in men aged over 75 or those with less than 10 years life expectancy.
How often should you have a Prostate Exam
The American Cancer Society, and many other organizations, recommends that prostate exams should happen annually after the age of 50. While their method is about personal choice – they do accept that prostate exams do help with the early detection of prostate cancer.
While most men should be tested after the age of 50, many others may be recommended to begin testing at an early age – usually no earlier than 40 – due to them being at a higher risk of developing prostate cancer. This particularly applies to those that have a long history of prostate cancer in their family putting them more at risk.
How to Prepare for a Prostate Exam
No one enjoys prostate exams – however for the peace of mind that it provides it is worth being uncomfortable for a couple of minutes a year!
You don’t need to do much to prepare for a prostate exam, however if you are nervous you may want to make sure that you choose a doctor that you feel comfortable with. Some may feel more comfortable with a doctor they have known for many years – whilst others would prefer to have a complete stranger. It is entirely up to you.
Before you head to the doctor for the prostate exam, you may want to do some research on the exam process. Society has built it up to be a horrifying experience when in reality it only lasts a few moments and is only slightly uncomfortable. The more you read about the procedure – the less you will worry.
If you have any anal fissures or hemorrhoids you will need to alert the doctor on your arrival so that they can be more careful and avoid causing you pain during the exam.
Other than that, just sit back and relax – the more relaxed you are the easier the exam will be. Easier said than done – but try your best!
Recommendations for Preventing Prostate Cancer
Whilst there are no perfect ways of preventing prostate cancer, there are ways that you can change your lifestyle and diet to minimize your risk of prostate cancer and minimize your need for prostate exams.
There are many different theories as to what ‘super foods’ will prevent prostate cancer. These theories come and go – but there are some preventative measures that have been universally accepted.
Maintaining a healthy weight is very important – tests have shown a link between overweight men and prostate cancer – so it is important that you eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly.
In terms of your diet, you should be choosing balanced meals, only drinking alcohol in moderation and eating a good variety of fruit and vegetables. Some other products that have been shown to be beneficial in minimizing the risk of prostate cancer include soy products, vitamin D, green tea and foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.