• All About Your Prostate Check-Up

    When should I consider a prostate check-up?

    50 is the recommended age for your first check-up and subsequently every two years. However, some prostate specialists are starting to recommend having your first check aged 40.

    Is there an increased risk group?

    You are at increased risk of prostate cancer if:

    • You are or African origin
    • Your father or brother developed prostate cancer before the age of 6o

    If either of these apply to you it is recommended to get checked at age 45.

    Where do I go for my check-up?

    Your GP. They know you already, and have access to all the tests needed.

    What does a prostate check-up involve?

    There are four aspects to this:

    1. A prostate symptom questionnaire
    2. Physical examination by your GP
    3. Urine and blood tests
    4. Ideally an ultrasound examination of your bladder

    prostate check-up

  • Prostate Symptom Questionnaire

    This is a standardised questionnaire with seven questions. The answers to these questions are added up to get a total score known as the International Prostate Symptom Score, or IPSS.

    There is an additional ‘quality of life’ question which is asked, but not added to the total.

    Before going for a prostate check up, ideally fill in the IPPS, print it off and take it with you for your doctor. The IPSS is available here to download, or you can try the online test below:

    1. Incomplete Emptying

    Over the past month, how often have you had a sensation of not emptying your bladder completely after you finish urinating?
    2. Frequency

    Over the past month, how often have you had to urinate again less than two hours after you have finished urinating?
    3. Intermittency

    Over the past month, how often have you found you stopped and started again several times when you urinated?
    4. Urgency

    Over the past month, how often have you found it difficult to postpone urination?
    5. Weak Stream

    Over the last month, how often have you had a weak urinary stream?
    6. Straining

    Over the past month, how often have you had to push or strain to begin urination?
    7. Nocturia

    Over the past month how many times did you most typically get up each night to urinate from the time you went to bed until the time you got up in the morning

  • Physical Examination By Your GP

    The physical examination is a normal part of the prostate check-up. Patients are often embarrassed by the prospect of this but it is important to remember that this is part of your GP’s normal work.

    What is involved?

    • Your GP will carefully insert a gloved, lubricated finger into your rectum.
    • This takes approximately 20 seconds and is totally painless.
    • Your GP will be able to feel the size of your prostate, its consistency, and whether there is any suspicion of a cancer present.

    You will also be asked to produce a fresh urine sample, which your GP can check instantly.

    physical exam

  • Blood Tests

    1 blood sample will provide results for the following:

    • Kidney function – this test measures blood levels of a number of substances, principally creatinine and urea.
    • PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) – this test is an important – and controversial – indicator of possible prostate problems. Further details here.

    blood test

  • Ultrasound Examination Of Your Bladder

    Bladder function can be an indicator of possible prostate problems. An enlarged prostate can prevent an individual from fully emptying their bladder. Checking bladder residual volume is increasingly becoming an essential step in the prostate check-up.

    What is involved in an ultrasound examination of the bladder?

    • The bladder must be emptied fully
    • A jelly will be applied to the abdomen
    • A probe (similar to a computer mouse) is used to painlessly image the bladder onto a screen.

    The benefits of an ultrasound examination are: 

    • Painless
    • No radiation
    • Immediate results

    Next steps

    If your bladder is seen to be empty, then there is no problem. If it is not emptying, then treatment might need to be considered.

    Your GP will discuss your results and treatment options (if any) at your appointment.

    bladder ultrasound