What is a Prostate Exam
Prostate cancer screenings are offered to men as early as 40 and as late as 75 years old.
The tests discussed below are used to look for the warning signs of prostate cancer. If you receive an abnormal result from one of these tests, you may need a prostate biopsy to determine if you have cancer. There are also non-cancer reasons why the screening test may come back abnormal.
There are two tests to detect prostate cancer; no special preparation is required for either test.
- Digital rectal exam (DRE) is an exam of the rectum. The doctor or nurse inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into the lower part of the rectum to feel the prostate for lumps, firmness, asymmetry or anything else that seems unusual.
- Prostate specific antigen test (PSA) is a test that measures the level of PSA in the blood. This is detected from a vial of blood that’s drawn in the doctor’s office and sent to the lab. PSA is a protein made mostly by the prostate that may be found in an increased amount in the blood of men who have prostate cancer. The level of PSA may also be high in men who have an infection or inflammation of the prostate or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH—an enlarged, but non-cancerous, prostate).If any abnormalities are detected, a biopsy or ultrasound may be ordered. Sometimes imaging tests, such as CAT scans or MRIs, may also be recommended.
There are no special instructions for this screening.
Watch this video to see what happens during a prostate exam.
Screening tests are given when you have no cancer symptoms. They should be performed on a regular basis, generally once a year when visiting your doctor’s office.