Prostate checks are a part of life for most adult men. It’s a necessary step to ensure that you stay on top of your health and become aware of any abnormalities before they evolve into serious problems.
For many men, it can be a nervous time. General Practitioner, Dr Sir-Kit Leong, from SmartClinics Clayfield in Brisbane has answered some of the most frequently asked questions by patients. Take a read and if you’re still unsure, book an appointment with your GP for a chat before committing.
When should men start getting prostate exams?
Once you reach 40, you should be getting a prostate exam every two years or so. Some men for various reasons may want to start getting prostate exams earlier in life which is also fine.
Can all doctors perform a prostate exam or do I need to go to a specialist?
Both general practitioners and specialists can do a prostate exam. Many men see their regular GP for this exam.
What will happen at my first prostate exam?
This largely depends on the nature of the consult. If you’ve never had a prostate exam before, it would often involve the GP taking a thorough history of your health background, examination and tests.
PSA is likely the most common form of test, and simply involves a blood test.
The test that many men feel nervous about is called a DRE (digital rectal examination) however it is no longer recommended as an initial screening test for prostate cancer. Only if you begin exhibiting signs or symptoms synonymous with prostate cancer, is your doctor likely to refer you on for further test / specialist consultation.
Is a prostate exam painful?
A prostate exam should not be painful. If it’s a PSA (blood test), the blood drawing may cause minor discomfort.
What are the warning signs of prostate cancer?
If you haven’t been for a prostate exam for some time, it is well worth keeping an eye out for the warning signs of prostate cancer. Some of the warning signs include:
- Changed urination patterns. This can include urinating more frequently or finding it necessary to urinate more often at night. Finding it difficult to empty your bladder, or a weak/interrupted flow can also be a warning sign.
- Blood in urine or semen. Sometimes this may be accompanied by pain or a burning sensation.
- Erectile dysfunction or otherwise abnormal function. If you’ve found yourself having difficulties gaining or maintaining an erection, and can’t identify any other likely cause, this may be a symptom of prostate cancer.
- Discomfort sitting or bending – this can be an indication that your prostate is abnormally enlarged.
These warning signs can vary significantly between individuals. The absence of symptoms does not necessarily mean the absence of prostate cancer. Other symptoms may include weight loss, swollen feet, fatigue, or muscle pain elsewhere in the body. To be sure, it is important to book yourself in for a prostate exam.
If you are healthy and have no symptoms/signs, think about doing a prostate exam from 40 years old.
A prostate exam is advisable every one to two years once you reach the age where there is an increased risk of prostate cancer from around 50 and order.
Regular prostate exams can help establish a history and baseline of what is considered normal. It’s important to take your doctor’s recommendations on how often you should be undergoing a prostate exam.
How is prostate cancer diagnosed?
Prostate cancer can be diagnosed by following tests, remembering they ought to support the context of the patient’s signs and symptoms.
- PSA Test: The PSA test seeks to identify the presence of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) within the blood. Elevated levels of PSA may be an indicator of prostate cancer. For this reason, it’s important to have regular checkups with your doctor, so that PSA levels can be tracked over time.
- Radiology test: MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is useful scan to visualize the prostate and proven to be highly effective in detecting prostate cancer changes
Additionally, your doctor may conduct a biomarker test. Biomarkers, found in the blood or urine (or tissue, if you’ve had a biopsy) are substances produced by a cancerous tumour or antibodies produced by the body to combat the tumour. Almost all diagnoses of prostate cancer will require a biopsy at some point.
Book a Prostate Exam Now
Dr Sir-Kit Leong graduated from the University of Aberdeen United Kingdom in 2005 and commenced his general practice training in Toowoomba in 2011.
Early in his medical career, he worked in North Scotland before relocating to Brisbane in 2007 and joining Queensland Health.
Dr Leong then spent 12 months in regional NSW working in emergency medicine in 2009 before undertaking general practice in the Darling Downs.
To book an appointment with Dr Sir-Kit Leong from SmartClinics Clayfield call 07 3268 1937 or click here to book online.