If you are a man who is past age 40 and has a family history of prostate cancer, especially if the family member was your father or brother, getting tested for prostate cancer is something that could potentially save your life. However, despite this form of cancer being one that is very treatable and curable, many men avoid getting tested for prostate cancer. If you are preparing to get tested at your upcoming appointment, here is what you can expect.
Prior to having the actual prostate cancer tests performed on you, expect to spend a few minutes answering a series of questions asked by your doctor. These will include if you have any current prostate problems that could signal cancer, such as a weak urine stream, trouble urinating, or noticing any blood in your urine. Also, if you have not disclosed the family history of the disease, your doctor will ask about this as well.
Digital Rectal Exam
When your doctor performs this test, they will ask you to bend over or lie on your side, then use a lubricated, gloved finger inserted into your rectum to check your prostate. Though you may feel embarrassed, it won't be painful. Taking only a few minutes, it is considered to be the most important type of prostate cancer testing.
PSA, which stands for Prostate Specific Antigen, will measure a protein level that tends to rise in men who have prostate cancer. Done through a blood test, it usually takes several days to get your results. Unfortunately, this test is known for not being accurate in many cases. In fact, your PSA can be high even if you don't have prostate cancer. Likewise, some men have a low PSA score, yet are diagnosed with aggressive forms of prostate cancer.
If your initial tests give your doctor cause for concern, they may suggest you have a prostate biopsy. Done on an outpatient basis and with local anesthesia, you'll probably be asked to take antibiotics a few days prior to the procedure, and will also likely require an enema. Should you have a biopsy, expect to see blood in your urine for a few days afterward.
Though prostate cancer testing is not the most pleasant experience you can have from a patient's standpoint, it can be vital in helping you receive a cancer diagnosis early enough so that you can recover. By taking a few minutes to get tested, you could be adding many years to your life.