wives more in “touch” with the need for a rectal exam


Vital Signs

Screenings: Partners and Prostate Cancer

Published: December 8, 2008

Men who live on their own are less likely than those living with a spouse or a partner to be screened for prostate cancer, even if they have a family history of the disease, a new study finds.

 
Writing in the December issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, researchers said the findings might help doctors better reach those men most in need of the screening.

Prostate cancer is a leading cause of cancer deaths among men, and those who have had a close relative with the disease are more than twice as likely to get it. But if it is caught early enough, the odds of beating it are good.

The study did not venture an explanation for why men living with partners sought screening more often. But the lead author, Lauren P. Wallner, a doctoral student at the University of Michigan, said it was possible that their partners encouraged them.

The researchers drew on data from a long-term study of the residents of Olmsted County, Minn. Among other questions about their health, the residents were asked about their attitudes toward prostate cancer. Researchers then looked at how often they had been given rectal exams and blood tests to look for signs of it.

Men with a family history of the disease were more likely to have been screened frequently, the study found.

Unattached men are not the only group who may not be getting screened. Guidelines call for men with a family history of prostate cancer to be tested from age 45. But it was not until after 60 that they began being tested more often than men with no family history of the disease.

This may sound odd to you, but sometimes you have to demand that a rectal exam be performed. A nurse that I work with in the operating room related to me that her husband, who is in his early 40s, was scheduled for a yearly company physical. She told him to be sure to have a rectal exam and a PSA test, but when he asked his doctor, he was told, “You are too young to have prostate cancer.” Upon hearing what transpired, his wife, my co-worker, said, “You go get you another doctor that will do that exam; I work with a bunch of urologists and I know what can happen with prostate cancer!”  Excerpt “The Decision”  theprostatedecision.com

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