Most men probably don't realize they have a prostate gland, yet this walnut-sized structure that sits just below the male bladder is something that every guy should keep in mind. Cancer of the prostate is the number two cancer killer of men, accounting for nearly 35,000 deaths annually in the U.S. Prostate cancer advances slowly, though, so early detection and good prostate health can make all the difference. Here are six simple strategies that can keep you in the know about the status of your own gland, as well as keep it healthy.
Get a rectal exam.
While a rectal exam isn't likely to be described as fun, it only takes 10 seconds and can provide you and your doctor valuable information about your prostate's health. The rectal exam and PSA blood testing are the only ways to check for prostate cancer, and getting both tests is necessary for maximal disease detection. Since nearly a quarter of all men with prostate cancer have normal PSA levels, taking a feel of the gland via the rectal exam can help rule out the disease. As with the PSA blood test, a rectal exam should be done once a year starting on your 50th birthday. As a general rule, prostate cancer usually grows very slowly, so there is no need for more frequent testing beyond once a year.
Credit: Getty Images