Finally, he might go to the doctor! Recommended changes to prostate exam could remove stigma 36



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For years men have hated going to the doctor when it comes to having a test for prostate cancer. And frankly, who can blame them. The old internal examination is invasive and sometimes even uncomfortable. Thankfully, all that is about to come to an end.

What are we talking about? Well, the latest medical recommendation in Australia is to drop the test.

Yes, big sigh of relief from men everywhere.

The Conversation reports the Cancer Council and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners have recommended doctors stop the rectal examination when screening for prostate cancer.

Until recently a combination of a PSA blood test and rectal examination was recommended. If your PSA showed abnormal readings, or your prostrate was enlarged, you were referred for further tests, which could include a prostate biopsy.

However, rectal examination has proven to be is less accurate than the PSA blood test, missing more cancer and causing more false alarms. 

Axing the rectal examination and making prostate cancer screening less invasive should also encourage more men to have regular screening.

For those not up to speed about the prostate, it is a gland at the base of the male bladder. Prostate cancer can be extremely serious and it is the fourth leading cause of death in Australian men.

Regular screening is recommended even for men who are at low risk, which means with no family history of prostate cancer.

However, since the decision to have prostate cancer screening is a personal one, it is up to the individual to request testing from their GP, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners says.

Are you glad the rectal exam has been axed? Do you think this will encourage men to go for screening more often? 

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. The the only test that’s needed initially is the PSA, which every man over 50 should be having every year so they build a profile of prostate health. It’s just a blood test and takes 5 minutes. Other tests are only necessary if you have an abnormal reading from the PSA!

  2. There is no need for any initial test except the PSA and every man over 50 should have this blood test regularly, it takes 5 minutes and could save your life!

  3. At my first ever examination of the ‘finger’ test, I said to the doctor “that had better be your finger up there Doc”. He laughed so much he couldn’t complete the test, and was still laughing when I left. Since that day he has always used the PSA blood test on me instead.

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  4. Excellent news although I have managed to reach 65 years of age without the dreaded gloved finger treatment. A PSA at regular intervals has done the trick and seeing that it provides better results anyway is good news as well.

    Susan beat me but cue all you women!

  5. The rectal examination, which takes four or five seconds is simply to determine whether the prostate is the normal size and consistency. The PSA blood test is unreliable. However, both have provided at least some indication of prostate health.

    In post mortems of men over 50 who had died from other causes, a large percentage was found to have indicators of prostate cancer, however, having an indicator doesn’t mean prostate cancer will develop. At present it’s still a bit of a hit and miss.

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    • Your correct PSA test is not accurate. In my case PSA was in normal limits with no change over time then I had the digital test and that showed up enough for me to have a biopsy which then revealed the true extent of my cancer.

  6. Honestly the men are so sooky – how would they cope with all the pushing, prodding and squashing that women have to endure for health checks? As for all that is done during pregnancy and childbirth – golly the human race would die out if men were on the receiving end of all that!

  7. At the risk of being jumped on and flattened, I would like to suggest that women are designed for some things that men are not!

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    • No intention flatten you Ron but I can tell you from first hand experience, women’s breasts were not intended to be flattened between two hard surfaces, for breast screening.

  8. Probably depends to a degree on the doctor doing the test, whether it’s painful or not. In my case it was almost painless and all over in a matter of seconds. I think I was more concerned about the embarrassment associated with the procedure and what the result would be. I’m not sorry the test is likely to be dropped, as long as they can still detect problems using other methods. PSA tests certainly aren’t the be all and end all either, from what I’ve read.

  9. From my personal experience, PSA test is so vague, it often doesn’t really mean much. The finger test may only show that the prostate is a bit enlarged, which is normal as you age anyway. Even a TRUS biopsy is only 90% accurate and same goes for an MRI. All you can do, is keep watch on things..

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    • While I have the PSA my Dr (who has had prostrate cancer) is very interested that the reading has not change over the years.

    • Yep, a PSA that doesn’t change or goes up and down is OK. If it goes up and keeps going up, then it should be checked out, but even then means nothing without further tests..

  10. Guys a PSA test every 6 months saved my husbands life. Had his prostate out 3 years ago. All fine so far. Due for another PSA test now. Fingers crossed. He jokes that he is now about 50 grams lighter. Hell of a way to lose weight. lol

  11. Why does a simple story on men’s health issues have to turn into bickering between genders? Surely at our ages we have grown beyond petty comparisons and understand each has their own special needs and tests that are specific to each gender.

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