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Prostate Cancer

Asking a Female Doctor for Prostate Exam

01/30/2008

Question:

After a 10 year hiatus from seeing docotrs, I decided that 2008 would be a good year to find one and get a physical exam. I`m 52 and in fairly good health (I guess). I just had my first contact with my new primary care doctor and she is super; very personable, knowledgeable and professional. I had bloodwork and a chest x-ray the previous week; all within normal limits. I`m starting to have the symptoms of BPH (going 3-4 times per night, PSA is normal). I drink too much fluid after 6pm, so I am trying to cut down; maybe this will help. Here is a really dumb question: do I have to ask her to check my prostate? I can`t see myself doing that; I`m sure that it`s the last thing that a doctor wants to do, but I`m worried that it`s enlarged. My last flight physical for the military reserve said enlarged, so I`m guessing that it is enlarged. Is it unusual for a female physician to avoid checking a guys prostate? Half of the flight surgeons that I saw in the military reserve on annual basis were female and they were none to shy about examining it as well as every other nook and cranny of my body; I actually prefer a female physician because they seem to listen better (and I tend to comply with their instructions better; I have a quasi-medical background and can usually talk most male docs out of just about any test, which is pretty stupid). This is not a joke; where I live it seems that 1/2 of the primary-care docs are female; is a prostate something that they tend to avoid? I just retired from the military reserve, so they won`t be checking it. Am I being obsessive, or should I just ask? thanks

Answer:

You should ask  her to check your prostate for multiple reasons. If she does not want to perform a digital rectal examination then perhaps your initial evaluation of the physician needs to be reappraise. The American Cancer Society and the American Urological Association both recommend all men between 50 and 70 have a DRE [digital rectal examination] and a PSA [blood test] annually and your doctor should not need you to ask her to do it--it is standard.

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Response by:

R Bruce  Bracken, MD R Bruce Bracken, MD
Professor of Surgery
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati