Information for the public

Seeing a healthcare professional

Seeing a healthcare professional

When you first see your GP or nurse about your symptoms, he or she should ask you some questions about your general health, your symptoms and any medicines you may be taking, including any herbal supplements. They should offer to test your urine, for example to test for glucose (sugar) or blood. This is to see if you have diabetes or an infection.

Your healthcare professional should offer you a physical examination, including a rectal examination. This involves feeling inside your rectum (back passage) with their finger to check if your prostate gland is normal. They should also ask you to fill in a chart called a bladder diary, in which you record how often and how much you urinate.

You may be offered other tests at this stage. Your healthcare professional may give you information and advice about a blood test that measures the level of a protein called prostate specific antigen (or PSA for short). There are several possible explanations for raised PSA levels, 1 of which is prostate cancer, but this is rare. You can take your time to decide if you would like to have this test.

The organisations listed in more information may be able to give you more information on PSA testing. NICE has produced a separate guideline on prostate cancer.

If you would prefer to try to deal with your symptoms without treatment, or they do not bother you, your healthcare professional should advise you on day‑to‑day steps you can take to help improve them (see treating urinary symptoms). You should be able to see your healthcare professional regularly to discuss how this is going.

If your symptoms do bother you and you would like treatment, there are several options. Before you start any treatment, you should be asked to fill in a questionnaire about your symptoms. This helps your healthcare professional to offer you the most appropriate treatments, and creates a record of how you were before treatment, so they can see how well treatments work.

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