by Joseph D. Tabora, M.D.
This article starts below.
Eighty percent of prostate cancers do not produce any symptoms. Because of this, most cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed at a late stage. Fortunately, there is a simple examination that can detect changes in the prostate -- the digital rectal examination.
Digital Rectal Examination
The prostate can be palpated and evaluated by a physician with this examination. Subtle changes in the size, consistency, and anatomy of the prostate can be felt. Any suspicious findings in the examination may alert your physician of an impending prostate problem. You would benefit from early detection and treatment of a condition that would otherwise be known at an advanced stage.
Symptoms of Prostate Disease
The remaining twenty percent of prostate cancers have symptoms of dysuria, hematuria and incomplete emptying. Use this prostate problems self-assessment tool from the Mayo Clinic to assess if you have symptoms of prostate disease (these are not specific for prostate cancer). If you score eight or higher, you have moderate symptoms from the prostate and would benefit from medical treatment.
If you get a low score, or if you do not have any symptoms of the prostate, and you are more than 40 years old, you would still benefit from a digital rectal examination (remember that 80% of prostate cancers have no symptoms). Consult your physician for a digital rectal examination. It's the least you can do to keep your prostate healthy.