Importance of Regular Checkups

shw fig12IMAGE 12: Prostate ExaminationProstate Examination

Given that men above the age of 45 are at high risk for developing Prostate Cancer, men 45 years and above should go for a regular prostate examination. The procedure can be performed by your doctor or an urologist.

The procedure is as follow:

  • The patient is advised that a finger will be inserted into their rectum in order to examine the prostate gland.
  • Usually the patient is asked to stand, feet apart, facing the examination bed and bend forward so that his arms or elbows are on the bed.
  • The doctor will put on a surgical glove and will cover a finger in lubricant.
  • The doctor will inform the patient that he will feel a little pressure but no discomfort.
  • The finger will be inserted in a downwards angle as if pointing to the umbilicus (belly button).
  • A few seconds may elapse as the doctor waits for the external sphincter muscle to relax.
  • The patient will become aware of some movement of the finger before it is removed.
  • When the examination is complete, the doctor will inform the patient that s/he will remove their finger, and then offer the patient some tissue to wipe the lubricant from the anus and buttocks.

If you are above the age of 50, your doctor should offer you a PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) blood test. A prostate examination should be performed yearly in patients with previous abnormalities or are considered at high risk. In cases where no abnormalities have been detected, an examination is recommended every 3 years.

Testicular Examination

Although malignant testicular cancer is a rare, early detection is vital for a good prognosis. It is suggested that men should perform a monthly examination on their testes after a hot bath/shower when the testes are looser. Feel for pea-shape lumps or any suspicious changes. If you experience any abnormalities you should go for a medical examination with your Health Care Practitioner.

Rectal Examination

Due to the fact that Gay men are more exposed to the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which contributes to the development of anal cancer, gay men should perform a regular rectal examination starting at age 40. This examination should be performed every 3 years if no abnormalities were found during the first examination. High risk clients, having a family history of cancer, should go for yearly examinations. The examination can be performed by your family doctor.

The following can be expected:

  • The patient is positioned comfortably in the left lateral position (lying on your left side). The patient is asked to flex his hips and knees and position his buttocks at the edge of the examination bed.
  • The buttocks are gently parted to expose the anal verge and natal cleft.
  • Inspection of the skin and anal margin will be performed with a light for proper examination.
  • The examining index finger will be lubricated with a suitable water-soluble gel and the finger will be pressed against the posterior anal margin.
  • The examining index finger will slip easily into the anal canal, and the finger tip is directed posterior following the sacral curve.
  • At this point, if appropriate, the anal tone can be checked by the doctor asking the patient to squeeze the finger with the anal muscles.
  • The finger is then moved through 180° feeling the walls of the rectum.
  • When the examination is complete, the doctor will inform the patient that s/he will remove their finger, and then offer the patient some tissue to wipe the lubricant from the anus and buttocks.

Rectal Pap Smear

A rectal pap smear should be performed by your doctor at the age 40 and repeated every 3 years if no abnormalities were found during the first examination. High risk clients, having a family history of cancer, should go for yearly examinations. In the case of your doctor suspecting the presence of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) or anal warts, a rectal pap smear might also be indicated. The following should be done 24 hours prior to your anal pap smear:

  • Bath or shower just before going to your doctor, making sure you gently washed your rectal and perineal areas with mild soap and warm water.
  • Avoid anal receptive sex 24 hours before your examination.
  • Don't apply any creams, soaps, lubricants or medication into your anus 24 hours before your examination.
  • Don't insert sex toys or other objects into your anus 24 hours prior to your examination.
  • Don't douche or use an enema before the procedure.

The following can be expected during your anal pap smear:

  • With you in a position that offers access to your rectal area, the doctor will insert a swab into the anus.
  • The swab will be gently rotated by the doctor to contract the inner mucosal surfaces of the anal canal.
  • The swab will be removed after collecting a few thousand mucosal cells and placed in a special laboratory transport vial. The cells will be examined in a lab under a microscope. Results usually take + 2 weeks.
  • The anal pap screening is a simple, painless, and quick procedure that takes a few minutes to complete.
  • You may experience a little rectal bleeding after the examination but the procedure is usually quick and for the most part painless.

The prostate examination, rectal examination and anal pap smear can be combined in one procedure.

Breast examination

Due to the fact that men can also get breast cancer, it is suggested that men should perform a self evaluation on a monthly basis. The following method can be used for self examination:

  • Inspect your breasts in the mirror for dimpling, swelling or redness. Squeeze the nipples gently to check for any discharge.
  • Do the following while you are in the bath or shower:
    • Put soap on your hand, put your one hand behind your head, and gently palpate (massage) your armpits in circular movements. Feel for any lumps or nodules present.
    • After examination of your armpit, move to the breast area in circular movement starting with big circles and then going smaller.
    • End at the nipple, but don't forget to palpate the nipple.
    • Repeat the procedure with the other armpit and breast.
  • If you note any abnormalities, contact your doctor for an evaluation.
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