Prostate gland cancer is the second most common cancer among men (skin cancer is number one). About 1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime. It occurs mainly in older men, the average age being 66, and rarely occurs before age 40.
At the time of the prostate exam, the doctor looks (feels) for irregularities in and around the prostrate gland. In addition, he also discusses blood work, which includes a PSA test (Prostate-Specific Antigen test). He will also ask you questions, like how often you get up at night to urinate, if you experience pain while urinating, etc. There are possibilities for both false-positive and false-negative results in blood work, as well as the possibility for self-denial of symptoms. Be honest. Talk with your doctor about these tests. Understand what’s going on.
TIP: Try to empty your bowels before you undergo a prostate exam. It’s a little more difficult for the doctor to feel your prostate gland if he has to go through or around stuff. Plus, the rectal stimulation might cause you to not be able to hold some of your bowel’s contents.
Also, because there’s usually a small amount of fecal matter on the doctor’s exam glove following your prostate exam, he might perform a fecal occult blood test, a very simple in-office test for blood in your feces, which might (but not always) indicate lower bowels problems (cancer, polyps, etc.).
It is quite okay to talk with your doctor during your physical, even when he’s got his finger lodged in your rectum. He should want to tell you what he’s feeling for and you should want to know then and there. Seek to be informed about your health, from head to toe. He should be glad to engage you in conversation. If he doesn’t, you might need to look for another doctor who really cares about your health.
The image below will give you an idea of the location of your prostate and how a doctor palpates the gland during the examination.
The Mayo Clinic reports:
During a digital rectal exam, your doctor inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into your rectum and feels the back wall of the prostate gland for enlargement, tenderness, lumps, or hard spots.
Prostate cancer that is detected early – when it’s still confined to the prostate gland – has a better chance of successful treatment.