I want to introduce you to self-prostate examination. So, please read on if you are any of the following:
1: A man
2: A man over 40 years old
3: A married man
4: A man with a family history of prostate cancer
5: A woman whose husband needs information about prostate cancer
6: A health conscious man or woman
The prostate gland is a walnut shaped organ at the base of our bladder (men only). It is hidden between the bladder and the penis. In fact, the urethra (where we urinate from) runs through the prostate.
So, this prostate helps to produce hormones and secretions that help the sperms in their business. The prostate secretes fluid that nourishes and protects sperm. During ejaculation, the prostate squeezes this fluid into the urethra, and it’s expelled with sperm as semen.
Now, you know what cancer is. Cancer in the prostate gland affects only men. It is pretty common as men get older, after about 40 years of age. However, it is not the only problem that affects the prostate gland. Two other conditions are as below:
Prostatitis: Inflammation of the prostate, sometimes caused by infection. In some cases, it is treated with antibiotics.
Called benign prostatic hypertrophy or BPH, prostate growth affects virtually all men over 50. This causes symptoms of difficult urination and tends to increase with age.
Anyway, of the problems that affect the prostate, cancer is by far the worst and a major killer. It causes all sorts of harm ranging from difficulty in passing urine to bone pains and spread to other parts of the body. It seems to be on the increase in Nigeria.
As with many diseases, early detection is very important in the management of prostate cancer. The best way to detect the cancer is to be vigilant and examine the prostate regularly.
Your doctor can carry out special tests and recommend different tests depending on your particular situation. Some of those tests are as below:
• Digital rectal examination (DRE): A doctor inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into the rectum and feels the prostate. A DRE can sometimes detect an enlarged prostate, lumps or nodules of prostate cancer, or tenderness from prostatitis.
• Prostate-specific antigen (PSA): The prostate makes a protein called PSA, which can be measured by a blood test. If PSA is high, prostate cancer is more likely, but an enlarged prostate can also cause a high PSA.
• Prostate ultrasound (transrectal ultrasound): An ultrasound probe is inserted into the rectum, bringing it close to the prostate. Ultrasound is often done with a biopsy to test for prostate cancer.
• Prostate biopsy: A needle is inserted into the prostate to take tissue out to check for prostate cancer. This is usually done through the rectum.
Now, do not worry too much about all of that.
I want to teach you how to examine yourself first and then go to the doctor if you are concerned. I think this is important if you, like me, have a fear of some doctor putting a big fat finger in your bottom! Believe me, I have seen some fat fingers on the hands of urologists. Urologists are the specialists who treat problems of the prostate.
Anyway, get ready to have a bath. Or a shower if you like.
First, plan to do it after using the toilet and emptying your bowels. The rectum should be clear of feces by then. Secondly, cut your nails so you do not injure yourself and cause bleeding.
Stand under the shower or in the bath and lubricate yourself well. Then, insert your left second finger into the anus (usually the longest finger). Make sure the finger is well lubricated with soap. Be gentle. Turn the finger round and feel the walls of the anus. The prostate gland will be found in front. Do as if you are pointing towards your umbilicus. Feel that it is all smooth and soft. There should be no pain or tenderness. No lumps or bumps.
A word of caution, though a self-examination can provide an early warning for prostate cancer, yearly physical examination which include a digital rectal exam by the doctor are more reliable in determining whether prostate treatment is necessary.
Any concerns please see your doctor.
NB: If you are a woman reading this, please kindly ask your significant other or any man fitting the descriptions above to have a prostate exam and keep an eye on it, every year.
Prostate cancer is real.
(Featured images: courtesy of medicinenet.com)