Prostate cancer affects about one out of every ten adult males in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society. Cancer is always easiest to treat when its caught early. Prostate exams are an effective way to detect prostate cancer during its early stages. Dr. Tomas Rios and Dr. Nicolin Neal, the experienced internal medicine doctors at Rios Healthcare Associates in Houston, TX, can assess your risk factors for prostate cancer and advise you regarding when you should undergo a prostate exam.
Screening for Prostate Cancer
The American Cancer Society advises that men with an average to low risk of developing prostate cancer do not need to undergo a prostate exam before their early 50s, and only if they are interested in being screened. Men with a high risk of developing prostate cancer, such as those with a brother or father diagnosed with the disease, should undergo a prostate exam around age 45. Men with more than one first-degree relative with prostate cancer are at an even higher risk for developing the disease and should consider being screened as early as age 40.
Screening for prostate cancer can involve a blood test and a digital rectal exam. The purpose of the blood test is to check for a protein that is a prostate-specific antigen (PSA). Men with higher levels of this protein could be at risk for developing prostate cancer. If the blood test reveals a high PSA level, additional testing is usually performed.
A digital rectal exam involves a physical examination of the prostate. To perform the exam, the doctor gently inserts a gloved and lubricated finger into the rectum to feel the prostate, which is just in front of the rectum. The doctor checks for bumps or hard areas, which could be signs of cancer. If suspicious areas are discovered, a sample can be taken for biopsy to determine if cancer is present. The exam is performed quickly and can be slightly uncomfortable for some patients, but is usually not painful.
Symptoms of Prostate Cancer
Men of any age who are experiencing certain symptoms should talk to one of the skilled doctors at our office in Houston, TX, about scheduling a prostate exam. These symptoms could be a sign that prostate cancer has developed. Diagnosing the condition right away is important so treatment can begin promptly. Symptoms of prostate cancer include:
- Frequent urination
- Difficulty urinating
- Pain or burning while urinating
- Blood in the urine or semen
- Shortness of breath, dizziness, or fatigue
- Pain along the spine, hips, or ribs
- Numbness in the feet or legs
- Erectile dysfunction
A prostate exam can lead to early detection and prompt treatment of prostate cancer. Dr. Rios or Dr. Neal can assess your risk for developing prostate cancer and determine when you should undergo screening. To schedule an appointment, call Rios Healthcare Associates in Houston, TX, at (832) 323-9230.