Here’s How Often You Should Be Getting Your Prostate Checked
Every man’s health needs change as they get older, and one of the most important considerations they should remember is a regular prostate exam. While prostate exams have an unpleasant reputation to say the least, they play a critical role in men’s health. These routine exams are essential for detecting prostate cancer early, at a time when it’s most treatable. But how often should a man get a prostate exam? Read on to find out all the answers.
Why Prostate Health Is Important
Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers that affect men, second only to skin cancer. According to data from the American Cancer Society, one in every 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. Of that cohort, one in 41 men will die from the disease. Aside from cancer, other issues can affect the prostate as men age, particularly an enlarged prostate. More than 90% of men aged 80 and older have an enlarged prostate. That said, all men need to pay close attention to prostate health.
Age, family history, and race are common risk factors for prostate cancer. In general, African American men run a higher risk of prostate cancer than men of other races. Also, a family history of the disease increases a person’s risk, as men with a father or brother diagnosed with prostate cancer have a higher risk of developing the disease themselves.
When Men Should Start Prostate Exams
The American Cancer Society encourages men to start getting prostate cancer screenings when they turn 50. African American men and men who have a family history of prostate cancer should start screenings sooner, generally around age 45. Men should schedule additional screenings every three to five years.
During a prostate exam, your doctor will check the prostate gland for any abnormalities like lumps. While the exam itself isn’t painful, it can be uncomfortable. Here are the typical types of prostate exams:
- Digital Rectal Exam (DRE): During this examination, the doctor physically checks the rectum to discover any abnormalities in the prostate. This exam often detects prostate cancer in the early stages, when it’s most treatable.
- Prostate-Specific Antigen Tests (PSA): PSA tests check the level of PSA. The doctor performs a routine blood test, checking the blood for PSA, a protein made by the prostate. Generally, high levels of PSA are a clear sign of prostate cancer.
What Happens Next?
If your doctor has performed a DRE or PSA test and the results are abnormal, further testing could include a biopsy, imaging exam, or screening test. Should the tests discover prostate cancer, the doctor will work with their medical team to develop a plan of care. Luckily, there are several types of treatment available, and outcomes are generally good when the disease is detected early.
Schedule Your Prostate Exam Today
Early detection is critical when it comes to diagnosing and treating prostate cancer. If you’re overdue for a men’s health exam, including a prostate exam, reach out to the team at Impact Medical Group of Clearwater at (727) 292-0200. Our compassionate, skilled medical team is standing by to preserve and improve your health!