Improve your chances of avoiding prostate trouble
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. — webmd.com