Gentlemen: we need to talk about prostate examinations. Sure, having a doctor your grandfather’s age tell you to bend over, drop your drawers, and spread your cheeks so he can go fishing around your booty is not an enjoyable experience. It’s embarrassing, it’s degrading, and it leaves males in such a vulnerable position—while feeling so violated—that most men would prefer to spend an eternity in baby shower/maternity class hell than have a prostate exam. The reality, gents, is that it’s time to bull up your boot straps, suck it up, and get a prostate exam, immediately. It could save your life.
A new book is leading the charge to get queer men to change their perceptions of prostate exams and get them into the doctor’s office. Gay & Bisexual Men Living with Prostate Cancer edited by B.R. Simon Rosser, Jane M. Ussher, and Janette Perz, delves deep into the issue that gay men do not do enough to protect their health, including getting prostate exams.
In an article for Mainly Male, B. R. Simon Rosser said: “While prostate cancer is the most common invasive cancer in gay men, it’s still incredibly stigmatized and hidden. This is a really important, important, common, scary disease, that we need to talk about and learn more about, if we’re going to be a healthy, loving and supportive community.”
According to the American Cancer Society and Cancer.org, prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer found in American men after skin cancer. An estimated 220,000+ new cases will be reported in 2015. Around 28,000 men will die from prostate cancer this year. 1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime. Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer fatalities in American men, after only lung cancer. About 1 man in 38 will die of prostate cancer.
While all these stats sound daunting, there is a silver lining. Prostate cancer can be a serious illness, but most men diagnosed with prostate cancer will not die from it. In fact, more than 2.9 million men in the United States who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point are still alive today. Early detection can be a key to better combating prostate issues.
There is just as much evidence suggesting that gay men are more receptive to getting prostate cancer as not, there is still a lot of misinformation out there, but also some startling surprises. In the lone study published studying HIV+ men and prostate cancer, researchers concluded that anti-retroviral drugs like Truvada, used for PrEP and TaSP, may serve as protective agents against the cancer.
So, what can you do to protect yourself? Get a prostate examination. Getting examined can alert your doctor to early warning signs of cancer. Obtaining a second opinion is also strongly advised as well as having secondary testing. Other than having blood drawn, one of the best indications of your prostate’s health is its shape and size, something that really can only be determined through a doctor getting a little fresh with his digits down under.
Early detection is key to survival and a speedy recovery. And get on pre-exposure prophylactics. Any sexually active male should be on PrEP, gay or straight. All men over the age of 25 should be getting prostate examinations on the reg. Period.