Assessing, not accepting, the bad news
Illustration by Jaelen Brock

When you've had a digital rectal exam (DRE) and probably a couple of rounds of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests, your medical team has only begun to scratch the surface of the required testing. There's still a tremendous amount of work involved in figuring out the problem and determining if it requires treatment.

Though your primary care physician has likely asked you a number of questions about your medical and family history, and general health, a urologist will likely dig even deeper.

"We're going to take our own focused history and physical," said Aditya Bagrodia, M.D., a urologic oncologist with the University of California San Diego Health. "That will largely touch on family history, specifically prostate cancer, breast cancer, endometrial cancer, lymphoma, leukemia or pancreatic cancer, because that may suggest you have hereditary cancer predisposition syndrome."

Bagrodia said a urologist might also request information on urinary parameters, such as urinary frequency, urgency, straining to void and waking up at night. Additionally, expect to be asked about your sexual history, ability to maintain an erection, sexual activity and so forth.