The risk of prostate cancer increases with age, with men over 45 being at highest risk. As in most cancers, early detection can clearly enhance health outcomes. All men over 45, especially if there’s a history of cancer in their family, should be screened for prostate cancer every year. The screening involves a blood test, called a PSA, and an anal exam (a doctor or nurse inserting a gloved, lubed finger into your rectum) to feel the shape, size, texture and consistency of your prostate gland.
We all know the clichéd joke about men being petrified of being told to assume the position while the doctor pulls on a latex glove to perform an anal exam. I can understand this being applicable to straight men who fear being anally penetrated, but I cannot believe gay men would fear this very simple procedure. If left unchecked prostate cancer can cause complications related to urine flow and pelvic pain, and can spread to other parts of your body. It can be fatal.
You can learn to check your own prostate and, more easily, your partner’s prostate; a Health4Men nurse or doctor can show you how to do this. Basically a prostate exam consists of gently exploring its surface to determine its size (smaller is better), shape (symmetry is good) and texture (consistently smooth is great). Most importantly, any change in size, shape or texture needs to be taken by a doctor. Likewise, any difficulty or pain when you urinate should be checked out by a health worker.