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All men over 50 should get a prostate exam every four years, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). Many doctors believe this exam should be performed every year.
Prostate cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer, and many men will get prostate cancer by the time they are 80. Detecting prostate cancer takes a combination of an examination by a qualified physician and laboratory testing.
During the prostate exam, the physician will insert a finger into the rectum and feel the prostate for lumps. If a lump is detected, the doctor may recommend an ultrasound, urinalysis, a blood test, a biopsy, or other tests.
A typical exam doesn't last for more than a couple of minutes while the doctor examines the shape, texture and size of the prostate gland. Most patients do not experience pain during the procedure. The physical procedure may not detect all types of cancer. The accompanying blood test may reveal problems that are not detected by the physical test.