Dr Greggory Pinto, a Bahamian urologist and laparoscopic surgeon from the Surgical Suite, answers the question of a concerned potential patient.
Q: "Dr Pinto, I am a semi-retired, 62-year-old Bahamian male and I must admit that fear has kept me from ever seeing a urologist and I am terrified of the digital prostate exam and so never had it. My dad and two older brothers all died of prostate cancer."
A: Please, sir, have no fear. The greatest fear is not knowing whether you have prostate cancer. We have all heard the alarming statistics. One in six men will develop prostate cancer in his lifetime.
Early detection has incredibly high cure rates. With early detection, a potentially extended, painful, life-ending event can become just a manageable bump in the road of life.
Men are so terrified and embarrassed of the simple 30 second digital prostate exam that they stay away from urologists in droves.
Every general physical exam by any doctor requires a digital rectal exam to detect early rectal cancer as well as early clinical signs of prostate cancer.
The much feared connection between urologists and the digital exam is most unfair.
The confidential, digital exam takes 30 seconds and is performed with numbing gel for brief, minimal discomfort that can potentially save your life and prevent untold pains associated with advanced, late detected prostate cancer.
Still not convinced? New advanced technology is here to save the day.
Multi-parametric MRI magnetic resonance imaging can painlessly and non-invasively detect very early prostate cancer and can be used to do targeted, more accurate biopsies of suspicious areas in the prostate.
Men lie in the MRI machine and, with no exposure to radiation, can have early detection of potential cancer of their prostate. Not used as a screening tool due to its expense, MRI can nevertheless be used in men at high risk, particularly those with a strong family history of prostate cancer.
MRI can also detect the difference between very early low risk prostate cancer that doesn't need immediate treatment and higher risk prostate cancer that needs more urgent treatment.
The greatest violation in life for Bahamian men may very well be being diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer that has progressed beyond the point of cure.
Advanced prostate cancer can spread to bones, lungs, other organs and the spinal cord, which could lead to paraplegia.
Many men presenting with metastatic prostate cancer, have irreversible kidney failure.
See a urologist. Don't let fear keep you in the dark. A 30-second digital exam and PSA prostate specific antigen blood test can save your life. Do it for the love of your spouse, children and grandchildren.
• Dr Greggory Pinto is Bahamian urologist who has trained in South Africa, Germany and France. He is a member of the European Association of Urologists. Dr Pinto can be reached at Urology Care Bahamas at the Surgical Suite, Centreville Medical Centre, Collins Avenue and Sixth Terrace. Call 326-1929, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit urologycarebahamas.com