GET A BLUE DO and help give prostate can­cer the fin­ger

Whangarei Report - - FEATURE -

More than 600 Kiwi men will die this year – mates, fa­thers, broth­ers, grand­fa­thers. If you haven’t been di­rectly af­fected by prostate can­cer, you’re bound to know some­one who has. Every lit­tle bit helps to pro­vide sup­port, cam­paign for greater aware­ness, and ad­vo­cate for bet­ter di­ag­no­sis and treat­ment out­comes.

Many men be­gin to have prob­lems with their prostate as they get older. Most prob­lems are caused by sim­ple en­large­ment of the prostate, but a few are caused by can­cer.

Usu­ally the first sign of trou­ble is with pass­ing urine. A man may no­tice one or more of the fol­low­ing symp­toms:

■ trou­ble getting started, es­pe­cially if in a hurry;

■ trou­ble stop­ping (“drib­bling”);

■ the stream of urine is weak, or it stops and starts;

■ need­ing ur­gently to pass urine at any time;

■ feel­ing a need to pass urine more of­ten, even though not much comes out;

■ getting up at night to pass urine more than once;

■ feel­ing a need to pass more urine, even though none comes out;

■ pain and/or burn­ing when pass­ing urine; this may in­di­cate in­fec­tion.

Not al­ways can­cer

In men with prostate prob­lems, nine out of 10 will have a prostate which has grown too big. this puts pres­sure on the ure­thra and may squeeze it enough to block out­flow of urine.

This con­di­tion is called be­nign pro­static hy­per­pla­sia or BPH.

Be­nign means it is not can­cer, and hy­per­pla­sia means “too much tis­sue”. BPH oc­curs with age­ing. It af­fects more than half of all men older than 50. Medicines or surgery are used to treat it but only when symp­toms be­come trou­ble­some. Re­mem­ber, BPH is not prostate can­cer even though most of the symp­toms are the same when pass­ing urine. In­fec­tion of the prostate is called pro­stati­tis. It is usu­ally treated with an­tibi­otics.

Cru­cial tests

The doc­tor will need to de­ter­mine whether the pa­tient’s prob­lems are due to BPH, pro­stati­tis, prostate can­cer or some other cause. The doc­tor may do the fol­low­ing tests:

■ Dig­i­tal rec­tal ex­am­i­na­tion.

The doc­tor wears a rub­ber glove and in­serts a fin­ger into the anus to feel the prostate through the wall of the rec­tum. The doc­tor checks the size, shape and tex­ture of the prostate.

■ Prostate spe­cific anti­gen test.

PSA is a small pro­tein re­leased into the blood by the prostate. The PSA test does not di­ag­nose prostate can­cer, it is an in­di­ca­tor that there may be ab­nor­mal­i­ties in the prostate gland. Re­sults from a PSA test alone can­not con­firm whether prostate can­cer is present. Other tests need to be done.

■ Biopsy.

A biopsy is the re­moval of very small pieces of prostate tis­sue us­ing a fine nee­dle. A lo­cal anaes­thetic will be given first. Men say the dis­com­fort is mild. A biopsy is the only way to show for cer­tain whether or not the man has prostate can­cer. Doc­tors use an ul­tra­sound probe, and in some cases MRI scans, to guide the biopsy.

A bat­tle with non-hodgkins lym­phona is the im­pe­tus be­hind for­mer All Black Buck Shelford’s sup­port of can­cer aware­ness and cam­paigns like Blue Septem­ber.

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