This is “Movember” when Canadian men grow beards and mustaches to raise awareness of prostate cancer and urge all men to get tested with the dreaded DRE (Digital Rectal Exam) and/or the PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) test.
First, let’s be clear. Only those men that are truly capable of growing a beard or mustache should be doing it. Men like me who don’t have the necessary active face follicles to grow a good looking mustache or beard really shouldn’t. I know you want to support your fellow man but please, do you want to suffer the laughter and humiliation from your family and friends when they see what looks like three hairs trying to escape your nose sitting on your upper lip. I know that if I ever tried growing a mustache, my wife would be saying “Take it off.” If I was lucky I might even get a “Please” in front of it. She’d be correct of course but it doesn’t mean I’d like it.
But I digress. Are you getting tested?
No one seems to be arguing the need for men of a certain age to have a DRE. However, we now have two very, very distinct camps on the PSA front. Getting a DRE seems to be a given and for you men that have never had one, let me give you some advice. GET OUT THERE AND GET IT!
Let me add one point here before I go on. I am in no way comparing this test to what the women in our lives go through for their annual pap tests. This is a guy’s perspective on a guy issue so please bear with me.
First and foremost, don’t be afraid to have the DRE. It is one of the easiest and fastest exams that you can have. Don’t be embarrassed or ashamed that your doctor is about to see something that in all likelihood no one in your life has ever seen. Trust me, they’ve seen a lot of them and deal with some of the two legged kind in their daily practice too. Just drop your pants, assume the position and get it done! Oh, one little hint guys, I’m sure a shower before the exam, if possible, would be appreciated by your doctor.
When I had my first exam I was positive that I heard the opening music from Star Trek, Next Generation and Jean Luc Picard reciting the phrase “…to boldly go where no one has gone before.”
A few years back I had a locum doing my annual while my doctor was on maternity leave. The locum was a recent grad and although she tried to display an air of confidence I could tell that she was a little nervous having to do the exam on a man who was probably as old as her father. I assumed the position and the exam began. To break the tension, she decided that I needed an anatomy lesson. She proudly said “This is your prostate” and I was tempted to say “Thank God I thought you’d discovered my Adam’s apple!” but being a gentleman I wisely stayed quiet. The exam was, as usual, easy and over quickly but I really didn’t need the anatomy lesson.
So in closing on the DRE, GET IT!
Now for something not quite so cut and dried, the PSA test. There are two distinct camps here and they seem to be competing for our affection. One camp says the PSA test is a life saver and the other says that it can lead to unnecessary surgery, pain, and suffering. Who are we lay people to believe? What is a guy to do?
I’m not going to get into the debate on the value of a PSA test. It is debated almost ad-nausea-um on some blogs and medical websites. The value or lack thereof of a PSA test is something that you have to research and decide for yourself.
Finally, to all the guys that can actually grow a good beard or mustache, thanks for showing your support for early prostate cancer detection and thanks for taking the load off those of us that can’t grow either one.