What happens during a prostate exam What happens during a prostate exam

What happens during a prostate exam?

 

A prostate check-up is a simple procedure that may be able to detect cancer at an early stage. Here is what you can expect when you go in for your prostate exam and post-exam care.

Located roughly two inches inside the bottom of the male body, the prostate produces a fluid that mixes with sperm cells to form semen.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men in Europe, with around 22% of new cancer diagnoses being prostate cancer. This type of cancer generally develops after age 50, but the good news is that the survival rate is very high. As men age, their prostate gets bigger, and their prostate cancer risk increases.

A prostate exam looks for physical abnormalities. If a healthcare professional has recommended you have one, then it’s worth getting your prostate checked out.

 

 

What happens during a prostate exam?

A prostate exam is a procedure a medical professional carries out to examine the prostate. Here are the critical steps of the exam:

1. Your doctor lets you know what to expect

Before the prostate exam begins, the doctor or nurse will discuss the process with you and answer any questions you may have. Additionally, you can have a friend, family member, or another medical professional in the room for extra support.

2. You get undressed from the waist down

Before the exam begins, you must remove your clothing from the waist down, including your underwear. The doctor will give you privacy while you do so, and once you are ready, you can let them know. This will make the exam easier.

3. Your doctor tells you what position to get into

Depending on the availability of the examination room and your physical capabilities, you can choose to have the prostate exam either in a standing or lying down position.

For the upright position, you should stand with your feet spread apart and support your arms by leaning on a surface in a bent position. You will be on a medical table while lying down for the exam. You should lie on one side and pull your knees close to your chest.

The doctor or nurse will approach you from behind and explain each step as they go. In either case, you can ask questions and make sure you understand the process.

4. The doctor inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into your bottom

Before beginning, the doctor or nurse will apply lubrication to their finger and insert it into your bottom. The prostate is close to the entrance, so they don't need to go deep for an effective examination.

Take a few moments to relax and allow your anal sphincter to loosen up. This muscle controls your anus, and when it relaxes, it should feel more comfortable. Don't tense up or clench, as this can cause discomfort. With a few moments of practice, it should become more accessible to relax this muscle.

5. They check your prostate for any abnormalities

During the prostate exam, the doctor or nurse will use their finger to carefully feel if there are any lumps or changes in the prostate's shape or texture. This process usually takes only a few seconds and may be slightly uncomfortable. The doctor or nurse is looking for abnormalities, such as

  • Swelling

  • Tenderness

  • Size

  • Lumps

If you experience any pain, be sure to let the doctor know.

6. You can get dressed again

Once the procedure is finished, you'll be given tissue to clean up any lubrication that may have been used, and you'll be provided with the necessary privacy to get dressed. The entire process only takes a couple of minutes.

Should I prepare for a prostate exam?

Before your prostate examination, you don't need to take any extra steps. The medical professional performing the exam will wear gloves to ensure your safety. If you're anxious, emptying your bladder and bowels may be beneficial; do not strain yourself. Although some may feel more comfortable being "clean" for the exam, you don't need to go to any extra lengths. You can wash the area gently in the shower like you usually would.

How does a prostate exam feel?

During a prostate exam, you may experience some discomfort. It is similar to having a slight pressure in your lower abdomen or needing to urinate. However, the exam is conducted quickly, so the sensation passes quickly. If you feel anxious, let your doctor know so they can address any of your worries.

What happens after a prostate exam?

During this examination, the doctor checks for abnormalities in your prostate, such as inflammation (prostatitis) or benign prostate enlargement. These can cause symptoms similar to prostate cancer but are not cancerous. The doctor may recommend further tests to determine if any cancer is present, even if the prostate feels normal.

A PSA test, a blood test that looks for certain enzyme levels, is often done with a prostate exam. If the enzyme levels are higher than average, it may signal the presence of cancer. It typically takes 1-2 weeks to get the results back. The doctor can use the results from the prostate exam and PSA to decide whether additional tests are required and how often follow-up exams should be conducted.

How does a doctor diagnose prostate cancer?

Suppose there are any signs of abnormality in your prostate. In that case, your doctor may refer you for additional tests, such as an MRI or biopsy, to determine whether prostate cancer is present or a different issue is causing the problem.

Who should be screened for prostate cancer?

Prostate screening involves a doctor checking a man's prostate or prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels, even if no symptoms are present. This is usually done through a physical exam or PSA test. Screening can help detect any changes in the prostate early on, leading to early diagnosis and treatment of any potential prostate issues.

According to studies, routine screening for prostate cancer does not help reduce the number of deaths from the disease. This is likely because prostate cancer is slow-growing, may not require treatment, and is usually not fatal. Additionally, there is a chance of a misdiagnosis, leading to unnecessary tests and treatments. Therefore, most countries do not offer routine screening for prostate cancer.

If you are over 50, speaking with your doctor about the advantages and disadvantages of having a prostate test is important. They can help you decide if it is the right decision for you.

If you are experiencing symptoms, have a family history of prostate cancer, or are of black ethnic origin, a doctor may advise you to receive a prostate check-up at an earlier age or more frequently.

When should I speak to a doctor?

It is crucial to speak to a doctor if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, as they may be indicative of cancer:

  • Modifications in urination patterns,

  • Semen or urine containing blood,

  • A discomfort in the lower back, pelvis, or genital area.

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