Men should talk to their doctor and get a physical every year, especially if they’re 40 and older. The majority of men do not get an annual physical. There is an ongoing, increasing and predominantly silent crisis in the health and well-being of men. Due to a lack of awareness, poor health education, and culturally induced behavior patterns in their work and personal lives, many men do not even understand their own health issues. More than 30 million men suffer from a prostate health problem. This means there are a lot of fathers, husbands, brothers, and sons who have been or will be affected by a prostate problem. The three most common types of prostate problems are prostate cancer, prostatitis, and prostate enlargement.
September is National Prostate Health Month. Holy Cross Hospital is concerned with men’s health and we want to remind men to talk to their doctors about their health, and understand the risk factors and symptoms associated with prostate related problems.
Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death for men in the United States. Although it is common, early prostate cancer does not have symptoms and many men do not know they have it or get treatment. The exact causes of prostate cancer are not known, but knowing the risk factors of prostate cancer can lead to screenings, early detection, and higher survival rates.
Men over the age of 50 are at a higher risk for developing prostate cancer, however other risk factors such as genetics, race and diet increase that risk.
The risk of developing prostate cancer doubles if there is a family history especially if it has affected a father, brother or close blood relative
World wide African Americans have the highest rate of prostate cancer
It is important to eat a healthy diet of whole foods high in fiber and low in fats
Men should talk to their doctor about prostate health problems. If there is any cause for concern the conversations should start as early as 40 so that screening options can be decided. Catch the cancer early and survival rates are high.
“A prostate specific- antigen (PSA) test is a simple blood test that measures a protein produced by the prostate gland,” says Alden Cockburn, MD, Urologist for Taos Surgical Specialties. “This substance is a normal enzyme made by the prostate and not by any other organ in the body. We use it as a window to look into the prostate. Elevated PSA numbers may indicate prostate cancer or a prostate health problem. Levels under 4 are considered normal.”
Prostatitis is an inflammation of the prostate that causes pain and discomfort. It is the most common prostate problem in men younger than 50. It can be an acute infection and come on suddenly or it can be chronic and come and go. Depending on the type of prostatitis, symptoms can vary there might be a burning feeling when urinating or feeling of a need to urinate more often; their can be lower back, abdominal, or pelvic pain; or include a fever and a feeling of tiredness. If you have any of these symptoms see your doctor for diagnosis and treatment.
Prostate enlargement is the most common prostate problem in men over 50. As men get older their prostate keeps growing and symptoms may gradually worsen. The problems begin when the prostate squeezes the urethra - narrowing the passage where urine flows and causing urinary problems. Some of these problems are:
Frequent and urgent need to urinate or trouble starting a urine stream
Weak urine stream
Inability to completely empty the bladder and/or dribbling/leaking after urination
If you have any issues or concerns about prostate health talk to your doctor. Remember to keep open communication so that the right screenings and treatments can be determined. Get an annual physical and stay healthy.