Im­prove your chances of avoid­ing prostate trou­ble

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News -

DO you know your odds of de­vel­op­ing a prostate prob­lem? Do you know what you can do about it? For such a lit­tle gland, the prostate seems to cause a lot of con­cern. Like a trou­bled, war-torn coun­try, it’s in the news all the time and something al­ways seems to be go­ing wrong there, but you don’t re­ally know where it is or why it’s im­por­tant.

All men are at risk for prostate prob­lems. That’s be­cause all men have a prostate. Take a look at this over­view of prostate prob­lems to as­sess your risk for trou­ble with your prostate.

Benign pro­static hy­per­pla­sia (BPH) also known as an en­larged prostate is growth of the prostate gland to an un­healthy size. A man’s chances of hav­ing BPH go up with age.

How­ever, only about half of men ever have BPH symp­toms that need treat­ment. BPH does not lead to prostate can­cer, although both are com­mon in older men.

Prostate can­cer is the most com­mon can­cer in men. About one man in six will be di­ag­nosed with prostate can­cer in his life­time. Let’s keep these num­bers in per­spec­tive, though. Be­cause prostate can­cer is usu­ally slow grow­ing, only about one in 35 men will die of prostate can­cer.

Like BPH, the risk for prostate can­cer in­creases with age. About two out of ev­ery three men with prostate can­cer are over 65. No one knows ex­actly what causes prostate can­cer, but risk fac­tors as­so­ci­ated with it in­clude fam­ily his­tory. Hav­ing a fa­ther or brother with prostate can­cer more than dou­bles your risk.

Un­like most prostate prob­lems, pro­stati­tis, which is in­flam­ma­tion or an in­fec­tion of the prostate, oc­curs more of­ten in young and mid­dle-aged men. Only five to 10 per­cent of men de­velop pro­stati­tis in their life­time.

The prostate is a wal­nut-sized gland found only in men. It sits just be­low the blad­der and sur­rounds the ure­thra, the tube that car­ries urine through the pe­nis. The prostate’s job is to make fluid for se­men.

The prostate grows nat­u­rally with age, usu­ally with­out prob­lems. In some men, the en­larged prostate com­presses the ure­thra, mak­ing uri­na­tion dif­fi­cult and caus­ing BPH. BPH symp­toms in­clude uri­nat­ing fre­quently, es­pe­cially at night, dif­fi­culty get­ting a urine stream go­ing or feel­ing as if you are un­able to get all the urine out.

Pro­stati­tis is an in­flam­ma­tion of the prostate, of­ten caused by bac­te­ria. Think of pro­stati­tis as a type of men’s uri­nary tract in­fec­tion. Prostate in­fec­tion is rarely se­ri­ous but if you have symp­toms of pro­stati­tis see your doc­tor. Pos­si­ble symp­toms in­clude pain uri­nat­ing or ejac­u­lat­ing, fever and chills, pelvic pain, need­ing to uri­nate more of­ten or cloudy urine.

Prostate can­cer of­ten has no symp­toms. It is of­ten dis­cov­ered after screen­ing with a lab test called prostate spe­cific anti­gen (PSA). Oc­ca­sion­ally, prostate can­cer can cause ob­struc­tion of urine flow, like BPH. This symp­tom usu­ally sug­gests more ad­vanced prostate can­cer.

In some ways, prostate prob­lems, par­tic­u­larly BPH, are a nat­u­ral part of grow­ing older. Still, there are spe­cific steps you can take to keep your prostate healthy.

A diet low in sat­u­rated fat and high in fruits and veg­eta­bles may lower your risk of de­vel­op­ing BPH. Re­search is on­go­ing to iden­tify who might ben­e­fit from early treat­ment to pre­vent BPH.

Ac­cord­ing to the Amer­i­can Can­cer So­ci­ety, most cases of prostate can­cer can’t be pre­vented. This is be­cause prostate can­cer causes are still un­known. As with BPH, how­ever, ex­perts rec­om­mend eat­ing a healthy diet with lots of fruits and veg­eta­bles.

No herbal sup­ple­ments have been proven to pre­vent prostate can­cer. Stud­ies of se­le­nium, a min­eral that has had mixed re­sults, but the ma­jor­ity of the ev­i­dence shows no real ben­e­fit. Tri­als for drugs to pre­vent prostate can­cer are also on­go­ing.

No ac­tiv­ity or drug is known to pre­vent pro­stati­tis. Ex­perts rec­om­mend good hy­giene, in­clud­ing keep­ing the pe­nis clean. Most men will never de­velop pro­stati­tis.

Treat­ment de­pends on which kind of prostate prob­lem you de­velop.

Benign pro­static hy­per­pla­sia needs treat­ment only if the uri­nary symp­toms be­come both­er­some. BPH of­ten re­sponds to drugs that ei­ther re­lieve the ten­sion around the ure­thra (Car­dura, Flo­max, Hytrin, and Urox­a­tral) or re­duce the size of the prostate it­self (Avo­dart and Proscar)

If med­i­ca­tion does not re­lieve the symp­toms, surgery may be re­quired. Sev­eral herbs showed prom­ise as treat­ment for BPH in some stud­ies, but re­sults are in­com­plete or con­flict­ing. These in­clude saw pal­metto, beta-sitos­terol, and Pygeum africanum.

Prostate can­cer treat­ment is com­plex. When de­sign­ing a prostate can­cer treat­ment plan, doc­tors con­sider a man’s age, over­all health, and how ag­gres­sive or wide­spread the prostate can­cer is. Each man’s can­cer is unique, and his treat­ment will be unique. Some treat­ment op­tions in­clude no treat­ment (watch­ful wait­ing), surgery, ra­di­a­tion (ei­ther ex­ter­nal­beam or im­plantable “seeds”), chemo­ther­apy or a com­bi­na­tion of these.

Pro­stati­tis is usu­ally a bac­te­rial in­fec­tion most of­ten treated with an­tibi­otics, usu­ally for at least four weeks.

Prostate can­cer screen­ing is con­tro­ver­sial. Some doc­tors and or­gan­i­sa­tions rec­om­mend reg­u­lar screen­ing while oth­ers don’t.

The Amer­i­can Can­cer So­ci­ety says men should talk to their doc­tors about the ben­e­fits, risks, and lim­i­ta­tions of prostate can­cer screen­ing be­fore de­cid­ing whether to be tested. The group’s guide­lines make it clear that prostate-spe­cific anti­gen (PSA) blood test­ing should not oc­cur un­less this dis­cus­sion hap­pens.

The dis­cus­sion about screen­ing should start at age 50 for most men with av­er­age risk for prostate can­cer and ear­lier for men at higher risk.

The Amer­i­can Uro­log­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion rec­om­mends that men aged 55 to 69 who are con­sid­er­ing screen­ing should talk with their doc­tors about the risks and ben­e­fits of test­ing and pro­ceed based on their per­sonal val­ues and pref­er­ences.

To re­duce the harms of screen­ing, a rou­tine screen­ing in­ter­val of two years or more may be pre­ferred over an­nual screen­ing in those men who have de­cided on screen­ing after a dis­cus­sion with their doc­tor.

As com­pared to an­nual screen­ing, it is ex­pected that screen­ing in­ter­vals of two years pre­serve the ma­jor­ity of the ben­e­fits and re­duce over di­ag­no­sis and false pos­i­tives. —

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