Prostate Exam vs Colonoscopy: Understanding the Difference

Understanding the difference between a prostate exam vs colonoscopy is imperative for determining when and how to get tested. By doing so, both men and women can be made aware of the dangers of cancer and can assist in preventing its spread.

Read on to learn more about the differences between the two procedures and their importance.

What’s a Prostate Exam?

Men may wonder what a prostate exam is and when they should consider having one. Testing is available in a variety of forms, but in general, men should be tested between the ages of 40 and 54. You should get tested every two to three years if your test results do not indicate any significant findings. So, what are the testing options? 

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In addition to a self-exam, PSA (prostate-specific antigen) and DRE (digital rectal examination) are the two most common tests. Although there is no official prostate cancer test, most people find the PSA to be the most reliable form of assessment. A PSA test measures the amount and level of prostate-specific antigens in your bloodstream. A healthcare professional should evaluate your score, as this number may be elevated by other conditions. 

In essence, a DRE consists of a physical examination in which a gloved, lubricated finger is inserted into the rectum in order to feel the prostate. 

Related: Prostatitis vs Prostate Cancer: Awareness

A Comparison: Prostate Exam vs Colonoscopy

After understanding what a prostate exam is and how often you should have one performed, let’s consider the reasons for needing a colonoscopy. An early colonoscopy can detect colorectal cancer at an early phase, which is one of the most effective methods of preventing the disease from progressing to a more serious stage. In this screening test, a long, flexible tube is inserted into the rectum and is fitted with a small camera at its tip. By doing so, physicians are able to visually inspect the colon and rectum.


Colorectal cancer screening should begin at the age of 45 for average-risk men and women, or even earlier if they suffer from genetic predispositions. In order to maintain good health, you should continue to get tested until the age of 75. When a person reaches the age of 76 to 85, colorectal cancer screening should be performed in accordance with the following criteria:

  • A person’s general health status
  • Family history
  • Prior screening results
  • Life expectancy

Colorectal Cancer Testing

After the age of 85, it is not recommended to undergo a colorectal cancer screening. In order to screen for colon cancer, physicians perform stool tests and imaging tests. There are several types of stool testing, including:

  • Annual guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (gFOBT)
  • Annual fecal immunochemical test (FIT) with high sensitivity
  • Three-year multi-targeted stool DNA test (MT-sDNA)

The following imaging tests can be performed:

  • Ten-year colonoscopy
  • Five-year flexible sigmoidoscopy
  • Five-year CT colonography

While prostate exams and colonoscopies have different indications, both of them can save lives. Detecting prostate cancer and colorectal cancer early is helpful in preventing it from spreading to other parts of the body, as well as in preventing it from growing in size. Early cancer diagnosis increases the chances of women and men being treated successfully.

Suggested: ​​When Should You Get Checked for Prostate Cancer?

Manage Your Health at USOC

Understanding the differences between a prostate examination and a colonoscopy will help you decide if and when you need one. A regular prostate examination is essential for men; however, a colonoscopy can be beneficial to both men and women in order to rule out cancer or underlying conditions. Click the button below to schedule your consultation at a clinic near you. We can’t wait to help you on your journey to wellness!

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