Medical experts have ranked prostate cancer second among the cancers that are likely to cause death in men. Nevertheless, even with this warning, very few men have taken the initiative to be screened for prostate cancer. While it could be argued that awareness for prostate cancer is far behind when compared to cancers affecting women only, even the few men already informed of the need to get tested are not so eager to comply.
The reasons for avoiding this important screening will vary across cultures and races. There is the general fear associated with having cancer, but findings reveal that the most common reason for avoidance is the screening process itself.
Prostate cancer screening is performed through a digital rectal exam (DRE), prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test, trans-rectal ultrasound (TRUS) or through a prostate biopsy. The most common method of prostate screening is DRE. Most men admit that they find this test to be a bit invasive and rather embarrassing, and thus many men are not willing to go through with it. The rectal examination only takes a few minutes and has slight momentary discomfort but without significant pain. However, some men describe the exam as “robbing them of their dignity”, and this coupled with some biased beliefs makes the condition go undetected in so many cases.
During a DRE exam, the doctor will insert a gloved and lubricated finger into your rectum and try to feel for any bumps or hard areas around the prostate that might be cancer. The doctor could use the other hand to press on the lower belly or pelvic area to check if there is a problem with other structures in the pelvic area and lower belly region. A DRE exam is considered a routine examination and is often carried out alongside other procedures necessary for establishing your health record as well as predisposition to the disease. In case a lump is detected on one or both sides of the prostate, some of the above tests may also be done to ensure correct diagnosis.
Research shows that older age and family history are the greatest risk factors for prostate cancer. Men aged 40 and over become more vulnerable with the risk rapidly growing after 60. A family history of breast cancer or prostate cancer also puts you at risk. Although unclear why, recent studies also suggest that men of black races have a greater risk and tend to suffer more aggressive forms of prostate cancer. Since some of these risk factors cannot be avoided, it is therefore important that men discard their biased beliefs and get screened for prostate cancer. Men over 40 should be examined no less than once a year.