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Prostate Cancer: Why Routine Rectal Exams are so Important

Prostate cancer affects 1 out of 9 men during their lifetimes, but recent studies show that early detection and advanced treatments promote a high survival rate.

At Gulf Coast Urology, with offices in Nassau Bay and Houston, Texas, Dr. John Bertini, Dr. James Harris, and the rest of our professional medical team provide digital rectal exams as part of your routine screening for prostate cancer.

When you should be screened 

Our age recommendation for prostate cancer screening depends on a few factors. 

If you have prostate cancer in your family history, we advise you to start routine rectal exams at the age of 40. You should also start getting tested at this age if you’re African-American, because your ethnicity tends to develop cancers more aggressively.

For those not at high risk, we recommend your screenings begin at the age of 50. After your first rectal exam, schedule them annually so we can monitor any changes.

Rectal exams explained

When you come to us for your exam, we consult with you first to find out if you’re experiencing any symptoms of concern. We also talk to you about your personal medical history and your family medical history.

In order to look inside your rectum, Dr. Bertini or Dr. Harris asks you to stand, then bend over, or you can lie on your side on the exam table, pulling your knees to your chest. 

Your doctor then inserts his gloved finger into your rectum to feel your prostate and identify any abnormal areas that might be enlarged, bumpy, or hard. You might feel a little uncomfortable during this quick and painless exam, but only for a moment.

After your exam

After your prostate has been checked, we talk to you about your results immediately. If we can’t reach a diagnosis with certainty, we may suggest additional testing that includes the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. 

We take a sample of your blood to measure protein levels that are produced by cancerous and noncancerous tissues in your prostate. Spiked levels might indicate the presence of prostate cancer, but they can also reveal benign conditions. Monitoring your health with routine rectal exams along with a PSA test, if needed, allows us to keep a close eye on the health of your prostate.

If you’re having symptoms that include frequent urination, blood in your urine, or other abnormal signs, or if you’re asymptomatic but are 40 or older, reach out to our team for a consultation. We can help you take the next step by discussing any concerns you may have and helping you keep your life on a healthy path of wellness. 

Contact us at either of our offices by calling or booking an appointment online. You can also send us a message if you’d like.

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