WTHR's John Stehr and Chuck Lofton get prostate exams
WTHR's John Stehr and Chuck Lofton let us take the cameras along for a prostate exam. The point is to educate about the screening and encourage other men to overcome their fears and hopefully save lives.
John and Chuck's appointments were during the lunch hour.
Chuck was up first.
"I think it's the way with most men. You won't do it really on your own. But if the woman in your life says "go ahead and do it..." said Chuck.
The annual exam for men 50 plus starts with a blood test measuring the amount of PSA, a normal substance produced by the prostate which has a fertility function. If it's elevated, it raises a red flag.
"We have the luxury of having several years of PSA on Chuck which is really the true value of PSA and his numbers have trended quite well. His PSA a year ago was 1.5," said Dr. William Shirrell, Urology of Indiana.
On this day, it's 1.24.
"A PSA for a white male in your age group, we should trend upwards to 2.5 to 2.6. The lower, the better. It's like all scores," said Dr. Shirrell.
It's a matter of seconds that men dread and sometimes keeps them away from the doctor for years.
"There was a period of time where this was never discussed, never done and unfortunately because of that we saw prostate cancer at a very advanced stage," said Dr. Shirrell.
John went next.
"John is 55 years old. His PSA is 2.3 which is just fine for a man who is 55 years old," said Dr. Shirrell.
"If a man's PSA is rising quickly or changes more than 20 percent per year that can be an issue," said Dr. Ken Ney, Urology of Indiana.
"If I don't have a family history and my PSA isn't particularly high, why do I still need to get an exam?" John asked the doctor.
"Because 20 percent of men with cancer have a normal PSA and it is only detectable by exam," said Dr. Ney. "In fact, some of the worst cases we wee are men with relatively normal PSA but have really abnormal exam."
"Ten seconds of discomfort versus dying of prostate cancer - I think that is a pretty easy thing to figure out. You take the ten seconds and it's really not that bad," said John.
"We see men who have not had their exam who just show up out of the blue with PSA that are in the thousands and it's already too far gone to treat, and men just ignore their health. They may be 55 or 60 but they present with very bad disease," said Dr. Ney.
But early detection can change the outcome. The doctor's advice is to overcome the anticipation, make and keep the appointment.
"I tell my patients if it's the worse thing they experience in a day, they have had a charmed day," said Dr. Shirrell.