You might go to your GP if you have urinary symptoms, are worried about
prostate problems or
because you are more at risk
of getting prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer and other non-cancerous prostate problems can
cause similar symptoms. They are treated differently, so it is
important to get the right diagnosis. Many men with early prostate
cancer have no symptoms at all.
will happen at the GP surgery?
If you are having symptoms, your GP will ask you more about
these. They can do a few tests to find out if you have a prostate
problem. The main tests include:
It is up to you whether you have these tests. Your GP should
explain what they involve and discuss the advantages and
disadvantages. They should also discuss your risk of prostate
cancer, and any other health problems you may have.
If you decide to have these tests and the results suggest you
may have a prostate problem, your GP will make an appointment for
you to see a doctor at a hospital for further tests.
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Digital rectal examination
The DRE is a common way of helping to diagnose a prostate
problem. Your doctor or nurse feels the prostate gland through the
wall of the back passage (rectum).
The DRE may be carried out by your GP and will be repeated by
the hospital specialist if your GP thinks you should see one. If
you are having a PSA test
as well, the DRE should be done after the PSA test if possible.
This is because having a DRE straight before a PSA test might raise
your PSA level a small amount.
You will lie on your side, on an examination table, with your
knees brought up towards your chest. If you find it easier, you can
stand and lean over the back of a chair or across the examination
The doctor or nurse will slide their finger gently into your
back passage. They will wear gloves and put some gel onto their
finger to make it more comfortable. Some men understandably find it
embarrassing but it is over quickly and shouldn't be painful.
They will feel the back surface of the prostate gland for any
hard or irregular areas and to estimate its size.
If your prostate gland is larger than expected, this could be a
sign of an enlarged
prostate. A prostate gland with hard bumpy areas may suggest prostate cancer.
If your DRE result shows anything unusual, you will be referred
to a hospital specialist. The DRE is not a completely accurate
test. A man with prostate cancer may have a DRE that feels
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