Prostate cancer is the second most common type of cancer affecting men (the most common type is skin cancer). In fact, nearly 1 in 8 American men will receive a prostate cancer diagnosis in his lifetime.
Although cancer can be life-threatening, the survival rates of prostate cancer are very high when the disease is detected early. Early stage prostate cancer is usually local, which means the cancer hasn’t spread beyond the prostate — and it’s most treatable in those early stages.
All men are at risk for prostate cancer, and your risk goes up based on your age and other factors. To protect your health, routine prostate exams are important. These screenings are the best way to identify cancer as early as possible, so you can get treatment and move on with your life.
At Advanced Urology, our physicians specialize in men’s physicals and prostate health exams at our offices in Los Angeles, Culver City, San Pedro, and Redondo Beach, California. If you’re wondering whether scheduling that prostate exam is really necessary, you’ve come to the right place.
Here are just a few reasons why having a prostate exam is so important.
Prostate cancer doesn’t have early warning signs
The prostate is a small gland in the male reproductive system. It’s about the size of a walnut, and it’s located just below your bladder and around your urethra.
A healthy prostate creates seminal fluid and transports sperm through your reproductive system. Prostate cancer occurs when abnormal cells start growing uncontrollably in the gland.
Unfortunately, cancerous growth doesn’t cause warning signs or symptoms at first. That means you could have prostate cancer without knowing it, and the cancer may reach more advanced stages before it begins to cause noticeable symptoms.
Eventually, more advanced prostate cancer may cause symptoms like blood in semen, pelvic pain, or urinary problems. The longer prostate cancer goes undiagnosed and untreated, the more difficult it becomes to treat.
You shouldn’t wait until you notice symptoms before you schedule a prostate exam. Making these screenings part of your health care routine helps your doctor identify changes as early as possible, when the cancer is most treatable.
Regular prostate exams identify changes early
Your risk of prostate cancer is unique, and our team is trained to identify your risk and recommend an examination schedule that fits your needs. In general, men with an average risk of prostate cancer should start routine prostate exams around age 50.
Certain factors could increase your risk of prostate cancer. Black men and men with family members who were diagnosed with prostate cancer before age 65 are considered higher risk.
In most cases, our team simply adds your prostate exam to your routine annual physical exam. Your prostate exam may include a digital exam, blood test, urine test, or number of other diagnostic screenings.
A digital exam is one of the most common ways to screen for early-stage prostate cancer. In this exam, your provider briefly inserts a gloved finger into your rectum. They feel for hard spots or irregularities that could indicate cancerous growth. Depending on your results, your provider may recommend additional screenings to confirm your diagnosis.
Even if you don’t have prostate cancer, your prostate exam provides valuable insight into your health. We can identify other types of prostate disease, including benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate) and prostatitis, and recommend treatment to improve and protect your health at every age.
Prostate exams are important for every man as he gets older. Schedule your next appointment at Advanced Urology today. Call or contact us online to get started.