The prostate gland is a part of the male reproductive system lying just under the bladder and in front of the rectum and wraps around the urethra. Normally, the prostate is the size and shape of a walnut. A prostate exam is recommended by the age of 40.
A digital rectal exam (DRE) is performed. Your doctor checks your prostate through the rectum with his/her gloved and lubricated finger. The doctor feels the prostate and checks for any firm areas or nodules, size, shape and texture. This exam may cause a little discomfort but it usually takes less than a minute. With age, the prostate changes and may become enlarged and may result in problems with urination and/or cause pain.
A PSA (prostatic specific antigen) blood test may also be recommended to correlate with other issues. PSA a chemical produced by the prostate that is naturally leaked into the bloodstream. If a PSA blood test shows higher than normal blood levels of PSA, other tests are needed to help determine the cause. A high amount may mean the prostate is enlarged or inflamed or that cancer may be present. Usually the PSA test is ordered at the age of 50 but if there is a family history of prostate cancer, a PSA may be ordered at an age of 40. Some common disorders of the prostate are prostatitis, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and prostate cancer.