I speak openly with other men about the screening

Photo of an elderly couple (Leslie Banks / iStockphotos / Thinkstock)

Harry, 67 years old

“Some people find the rectal and ultrasound examinations unpleasant. I was already used to it because I used to have anal infections due to a chronic health problem, so it doesn’t bother me that much anymore.”

A few years ago I started having to pee often. I went to see a urologist about it. He discovered that I had an enlarged prostate gland. While I was there, we talked about the screening test for prostate cancer.

I’m generally interested in medical topics anyway, and had already read up about it because men can have screening tests from a certain age onwards. The doctor then suggested several things, including the PSA test. I had wanted to do the test anyway, after reading about it.

My PSA levels were normal. I know PSA tests are disputed, but I still think it makes sense for me to have them. After all, nothing is concluded based on PSA levels alone. My doctor also feels the prostate with his finger and does an ultrasound scan to look at it.

My wife has been an inspiration to me

I do sometimes worry about finding out that I have abnormal PSA levels, but I’m much more relaxed and open about it all nowadays. My wife had breast cancer, and she had a very positive attitude to life throughout the whole thing. I really admire her approach and have learned a lot from her. She has been an inspiration to me. If my PSA levels turn out to be too high, I would have to make the most of things. I’m turning 70 soon and know that I’m not going to live forever.

I talk to my wife about the tests. We’re much more open about these things since she had breast cancer. We talk to our children about it too. We’re hoping to pass this open attitude on to them.

Some men find the rectal and ultrasound examinations unpleasant. I was already used to it because I used to have anal infections due to a chronic health problem, so it doesn’t bother me that much anymore. But it’s still hard, especially if you go to the appointment thinking that it will be unpleasant. That makes you more tense and then it isn’t very pleasant. It is an unpleasant feeling, and I don’t like it when a female assistant is in the room with us. My urologist is understanding, and always asks her to leave the room.

The doctor’s approach makes all the difference! Some doctors are gentle and kind, and some would be better off working in a slaughterhouse! If I don’t get on with a doctor, don’t like the way he does his job or if I don’t like him, I just go to another doctor. I switch doctor’s practices if I don’t feel I’m in good hands.

My doctor and I chat during the examinations, and we always make an appointment to discuss the results. He’s really open about everything and that’s very important to me. He points out the negative aspects of diagnostic tests, and has also told me that he would refer me to a special medical center if my results were abnormal. He also explains what he is doing during the tests and examinations. I trust him. I wouldn’t even consider sticking with a doctor who doesn’t explain things to me or answer my questions properly.

I have talked to colleagues about it

I know that a lot of men don’t have PSA tests, but I have always encouraged my colleagues to do so. We’ve talked about it. I’m open about these things.

I suffered from burnout a few years ago. That really shook me up and changed my attitude towards life. Ever since then, I’ve been more open about these things and talk about them. I’ve started taking more responsibility for myself. I think it's important to take care of your body and not simply leave that up to doctors or chance.

It’s important to read up about things, prepare for your doctor’s appointments and play an active role yourself. That shows that you care about yourself and your own health.


Acknowledgment

These real-life stories were gathered during interviews with patients who generously shared their experiences with us. We are very grateful to these interview partners. All of them have given their permission for these stories to be published here.

The opinions and comments in these stories are the opinions of individuals. They are not recommendations by IQWiG.