Checking the Prostate Gland

4 of 15 in Series: The Essentials of Men’s Sexual Health

Having regular prostate exams are important as a man ages. The prostate gland — located below the bladder — can become enlarged and cause increased frequent urination. This problem, called benign prostatic hypertrophy, is bothersome but not dangerous. Prostate cancer, on the other hand, can be quite dangerous if it isn’t discovered and treated in time.

The prostate gland often can become cancerous, particularly as a man approaches age 50 and beyond. Prostate cancer is easily treated, but it must be detected first. As such, regular prostate exams — a simple procedure at the doctor’s office — are absolutely essential to men’s health.

A doctor checks the prostate for changes that can signify a cancerous growth simply by palpating, or touching, it. In order for his doctor to get to the prostate, a man has to bend over and allow the doctor to insert his or her finger in the man’s rectum. This way, the doctor can actually feel the prostate gland.

If you’re really concerned about this procedure, you can speak to your doctor about a blood test that may reduce the odds of your having to undergo the actual physical exam. But because regular prostate exams can save your life, do not put them off, especially if you’ve reached that 50-year milestone.

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