Wise Woman

Prostate Exam

Who prompts a man to see the doctor for that all-important prostate check? It’s no secret.

A disease that worsens slowly, over time, can be missed without regular check-ups. That lingering female voice in your head (probably mom) or the louder one in your ear (your wife? sister? friend?) are both telling you to go to the doctor. If you’re older than 50, listen to her. You need a prostate cancer screening.

Polly Snodgrass said her husband, Tom, has “diagnosis anxiety” – fear of an unusual health diagnosis. “Tom keeps his appointments for regular check-ups,” she noted. “It’s when he thinks there’s something wrong that he doesn’t want to know.” Tom has experienced serious health issues and seen many doctors, but his prostate cancer diagnosis was found during a routine visit to his primary care doctor. Those monitoring appointments can be life-saving.

Catch it now

“As men age, many of them come in every six months for blood pressure and cholesterol checks,” said Dr. Jack Anderson of ThedaCare Physicians Internal Medicine in Appleton. “That’s when they should have the prostate checked, too.”

Women with a family member who has had prostate cancer – a dad, brother or uncle – are more likely to encourage the men in their lives to get checked. A family history can also prompt men to act, even without encouragement from someone else.

“Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers,” said Dr. Anderson. “Survival rates are much higher when we identify it at an early stage.  We can significantly reduce the likelihood of dying from prostate cancer with that early diagnosis. That’s the best motivation for any man to be checked.”

Prostate cancer can be treated in several different ways. Doctors work with couples to find what’s best for them. “Patients are more informed than ever,” said Dr. Anderson. “They are coming in earlier, with questions and sometimes confusion about conflicting data. I give them the facts, so with their wives and families, they can make good decisions.”

Stop whining!

Polly takes a practical approach to address Tom’s “diagnosis anxiety.” “Sometimes women enable their husbands by being too kind,” she said. “Being too accommodating may not be wise, though. If something’s wrong, we should take care of it. That’s a positive approach, I think. It’s not negative. Why be in pain? Why be uncomfortable?”

Polly insists Tom go to the doctor when he tells her something isn’t right. “I start asking, ‘Have you made that doctor’s appointment?’”

Tom has some advice for men: “Marry someone with a positive attitude, like my wife. She believes it’s all going to be okay, so she isn’t afraid to tell me to stop whining and go to the doctor.”

Get educated about prostate health! Visit www.thedacare.org/prostate