Do I really need that digital rectal exam?

If you’re over 40, yes, you do. A colonoscopy is also a good idea, says Soden. These uncomfortable but vital procedures can catch prostate or colon cancer early enough to treat them. The standard recommendation is getting the tests at 50, unless your risk for prostate or colon cancer is elevated, as in the case of a family history of the diseases.

Soden also recommends that men over 40 check their baseline prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a substance made in the prostate that tends to increase with the presence of prostate cancer. While prostate cancer screening has become controversial and many medical groups question the value of routine screening, Soden does recommend getting it done early so you know if it changes.

Once you’re approaching 45, get the exams more regularly, suggests Soden. One problem is that doctors often won’t often push for the digital exam. “They’ll say, ‘Do you want the exam?’ If the patient says no, they won’t do it,” says Soden. “That’s not fair to the patient. That’s something you should do whether the patient likes it or not, because it’s the easiest way to discover a nodule.” If your doctor asks to do a digital exam, say yes.
Asked May 21, 2018

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Answered Jun 09, 2018

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