If you are a man, you have something women don’t: a prostate. This walnut-sized gland is part of your urinary system, and it makes the fluid that carries sperm. Just as you check your car regularly to make sure all of the parts are in good working order, you need to keep an eye on your body parts—including your prostate.
If you have reached the age of 50, you should speak with your doctor about whether you should have your prostate checked. If you have a family history of prostate problems or if you are of African ancestry, your risk of prostate disease may be higher, so don’t wait until you hit the big 5-0.
The two main tests used to detect prostate disease are the DRE (digital rectal exam) and the PSA (prostate specific antigen) test. During a DRE, the doctor inserts a gloved finger into the rectum to feel the prostate gland and checks for anything that doesn’t feel “normal.” The PSA test measures the amount of PSA in a man’s blood. As men age, their PSA levels increase, but a large increase may be a sign of prostate disease. Possible reasons for a high PSA level are a benign (non-cancerous) enlargement of the prostate, a urinary infection, having had a recent prostate biopsy, or prostate cancer.
One problem with a PSA test is that it often incorrectly shows high levels of PSA when, in fact, the levels are normal. This is called a “false-positive” result. For this reason, many doctors do not recommend PSA tests unless a man has other factors that raise his risk of prostate cancer.
If you have any questions about prostate health, speak with your doctor or Sobeys Pharmacist.