When making your appointment, you can ask to have an appointment with a male GP if this is something that you would perhaps be more comfortable with. As your appointment time is short (often around 10 minutes) it may help if you plan beforehand what you’re going to say such as your symptoms and any questions that you want to ask, even writing these down so you don’t forget anything.

Your GP will most likely ask about:

Your symptoms

This is usually one of the first questions that your GP will ask. It might be helpful if you have kept a note of any symptoms or alternatively you may have done the symptom self-test and have a print out of that available as these are the type of questions that your GP is likely to ask you.

Medical history

Although your GP will have either case notes or be able to see your medical records on screen, you will most likely be asked about any medications that you are taking whether prescribed or over-the-counter. Let the GP know about any herbal supplements or complementary medicines that you take.

Family history

You may be asked if there is any history of prostate cancer in your family, for example your father, grandfather or brothers. If you can find out about your family history before going to see the GP that would be very helpful then you can mention this to the GP.

To find out more, see the leaflet Prostate Cancer – Is it in the family?

Urine test

The GP may ask for a urine sample so it might be helpful if you take a urine sample with you. The GP may test this sample for glucose (to test for sugar) or may use a little dipstick to test for any signs of infection in your bladder or kidneys.

Blood tests

You might have a blood test to check on how your kidneys are working.

Your GP may chat to you about the PSA blood test. This test can give an indication of whether there may be something going wrong with the prostate.

Find out more about see the booklet PSA Explained.

Prostate examination

This is called a Digital Rectal Examination or DRE. Mention the prostate to men and it is the DRE that most men associate with the prostate. The prostate is inside the pelvis, under the bladder and in front of the back passage. Because of where it is, the only way that the GP or other clinical staff can reach the prostate is by sliding a gloved finger into the back passage to reach the prostate to physically feel the shape, size, for any lumps and any hardened areas.

This examination usually takes less than a minute and although it may perhaps be a bit uncomfortable it shouldn’t be painful. However, many men can be anxious, worried or embarrassed about the DRE.

Having the DRE and results of the PSA blood test give the GP and clinical staff a much better idea of what is happening with the prostate.

Then what

Depending on the results, this may lead to a referral to a urology department at the hospital for further tests, the GP referring the man for a prostate biopsy or in some instances your GP may treat the condition.

Benefits of going to see your GP early

You may be worried about seeing the GP, giving perhaps personal information about symptoms and you may be anxious about some of the tests or examinations.  However, it is only by seeing the GP that a start can be made to find out what is happening and if your symptoms are related to prostate disease and if so what the GP may be able to do to help with your symptoms.

The benefits of early diagnosis of prostate cancer are:

  • When prostate cancer is picked up early enough when it is still within the prostate it can potentially be cured;
  • It might be picked up when the cancer is small and before it has the chance to get too big;
  • It is picked up when it is still retained within the prostate and not spread to other areas of the body;
  • Generally the man’s chances of survival are greater.

What the medical words mean, abbreviations that you might hear and medical staff that you might meet.

When you have been diagnosed with any disease or condition, unavoidably, there will medical words and abbreviations that doctors, nurses and other medical staff will use that you have never heard of and will perhaps not know what they mean and prostate disease and prostate cancer are no different.

A helpful list of terms you might come across is provided here in alphabetical order.