A guide to prostate screenings

A guide to prostate screenings

Starting at age 50, all men should discuss undergoing a prostate cancer screening with their doctor. While the idea of getting a prostate exam doesn’t sound like too much fun, it is an important measure to make to ensure your health and wellbeing.

Before you get a prostate screening, learn more about what they involve below.

What is your prostate?

Your prostate is a walnut-sized gland located near your bladder. It sits around the urethra, which is the tube that carries pee from your bladder through your penis. The prostate produces some of the fluids contained in your semen, the liquid that transports sperm. This liquid contains special enzymes and hormones that help your sperm cells function properly, playing a key role in fertility.

Why undertake a prostate exam?

A prostate exam typically involves a digital rectal exam (DRE) and a test for prostate- specific antigen (PSA) levels. A prostate exam can help your doctor diagnose prostate cancer. Symptoms may include: 

  • Frequent urination
  • Weak or interrupted urine flow or the need to strain to empty the bladder
  • The urge to urinate frequently at night
  • Blood in the urine
  • Blood in the seminal fluid
  • New onset of erectile dysfunction
  • Pain or burning during urination, which is much less common
  • Discomfort or pain when sitting, caused by an enlarged prostate

Your doctor may also want to perform a prostate exam if you have symptoms of an enlarged prostate. Symptoms may include:

  • difficulty peeing, including getting started or getting a strong or steady ‘flow’
  • needing to pee often
  • needing to pee suddenly, without the normal build-up
  • waking up at night to go to the toilet
  • pain or burning when peeing
  • or pain when ejaculating.

The symptoms of an enlarged prostate are sometimes quite similar to those of prostate cancer, making it important to tell your doctor if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, even if you are younger than 50. 

What is involved in a prostate screening? 

The most common way for doctors to check on the health of your prostate is with a digital rectal exam (DRE). It’s a fairly quick and simple procedure. For the exam, you’ll bend at the waist while standing or lie on your side with your knees bent toward your chest.
Your doctor will lubricate a gloved finger and gently place it inside your rectum. They’ll press one hand on your prostate, and their other hand will feel your pelvic area. It should only take a few moments. From this, your doctor will be able to tell you if your prostate seems to be a normal size and shape.

Your doctor may also test your blood for PSA levels to screen for prostate cancer. PSA is a protein that helps liquefy semen. It’s normal for some PSA to get into your bloodstream. Certain forms of prostate cancer can lower your PSA. It is important to discuss a PSA test with a trusted healthcare professional to ensure it is the right option for you.

Your doctor may also choose a MRI, prostate biopsy or ultrasound as part of the screening.

What next?

While the some of results will be immediate, the screening may take up to a few days for analysis. Your doctor will then recommend the next steps which are appropriate for you. 

It is essential to become well-informed and educated regarding the options and treatment methods available to you. If you have any questions or would like to book an appointment, please feel free to contact or call Dr Arianayagam’s office on 1300 307 990 and his staff will be able to assist.

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