Prostate examinations are essential to screen for prostate problems including prostate cancer, which is the second leading form of cancer in men. 33% of all men will suffer some sort of prostate cancer in their lives and it is the leading cause of death in men over the age of 75.
The prostate gland is located near the bladder and is about the size of a walnut. The purpose of the prostate is to help the production of seminal fluid which is the part of the reproductive system that transports the sperm from the testes.
As men age, their prostate normally enlarges. However, an inflamed prostate may be a sign of cancer or other health problems. At age 45 – 50, men may receive a prostate examination to identify potential prostate problems if symptoms are experienced or during an annual wellness examination.
Prostate exams typically consists of two parts, a digital rectal exam (DRE) and when necessary, a blood test, to identify the levels of the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA).
Digital Rectal Exam (DRE)
The Digital Rectal Exam (DRE), is a quick and simple procedure that helps Dr. Ward identify if the prostate seems normal in size and shape. During this procedure, a gloved finger is lubricated and then gently inserted inside the rectum to examine the size and shape of the prostate.
While the patient may feel momentary discomfort and the urge to urinate may be experienced during the exam, it will only take a few moments and the examination will help determine if further testing is necessary.
Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA)
Dr. Ward may also perform the second test, which is a blood test that identifies the levels of Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA). Elevated PSA levels are an indicator of prostate cancer.
PSA levels may rise above normal levels because of:
- An inflamed or infected prostate
- An enlarged prostate
- Some form of prostate cancer
PSA tests are helpful and provide insight into the patient’s condition.
There are some common risk factors associated with prostate cancer. They include:
- Men over the age of 50
- A family history of cancer
- Urination troubles
- Bone pain and pelvic discomfort
- High fat diet
- A sedentary lifestyle
Some of these risk factors can be addressed with lifestyle changes while others may not. Dr. Ward will be able to provide treatment plans based on the results of his testing.
Some prostate cancers are slow growing and controllable while others are not. However, when prostate cancer is identified and treated, the 5-year survival rate is 99%. The 10-year survival rate of prostate cancer is 98% and 95% live for at least 15 years, according to the American Cancer Society. Treatment is only possible if detected through a prostate exam. Early detection saves lives so if you are concerned or have symptoms of prostate problems, give Dr. Reed Ward a call for an examination.