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Prostate Cancer Awareness Week (pcaw.org) has compiled information and books on the issue of Prostate Health.


Prostate Health


The prostate doesn't usually come up during casual conversation, so you may know little about this gland. Like many men, you may be prompted to learn about it because you have heard that men over 50 are more likely than younger men to have "prostate trouble". Or that prostate cancer is the #1 cancer for nonsmokers. Or, you may have noticed changes in your urinary habits that have made you wonder "Is something wrong? or "Should I see my doctor?

While I'm not a doctor or an expert on this subject, I will attempt to explain the role of the prostate and how the prostate changes as a man ages. I will outline some prostate-related conditions and what steps you can take to help catch prostate disease early. I hope this will help you better understand prostate disease and its possible impact on the quality of your life.

What is the prostate and where is it located in the body? Only males have prostates. It is a gland located just below the bladder, the organ that stores urine. The prostate surrounds a part of the urethra, the tube through which urine flows.

What is the prostate`s function? As you probably know, the testicles produce sperm. But what most don`t know is that the prostate contributes to the fluid that helps to carry the sperm. This fluid, which is released during ejaculation, is also thought to supply nourishment for the sperm, to help make the vaginal canal less acidic, and to help increase the likelihood of conception.

Common prostate problems. I will discuss the three common, yet very different, diseases of the prostate. Although they have different treatments, they may cause many of the same symptoms.

Prostatitis

Prostatitis is an inflammation of the prostate, which may be caused by the presence of a bacterial infection. This condition affects 60% of all males from puberty on and can occur in any prostate regardless of size. Some of the symptoms of prostatitis are similar to those caused by an enlarged prostate. The most common symptoms include: pain or a burning sensation during urination, frequent urination (especially disturbing at night), a frequent sensation that you must urinate right away, impotence, burning with ejaculation or discolored semen. It can also be accompanied by chills and fever (in acute infections).

Treatment. It is sometimes difficult to cure and for some, it becomes a chronic disease. It is primarily treated with antibiotics. Other treatments involve the use of anti-inflammatory agents or medicines that relax the prostate tissue. Dietary adjustments, heat, vitamin and mineral supplements as well as treatment of chronic constipation and coltities, can also bring relief. It will not lead to sterility or cancer. In time it will respond to proper treatment.

Prostate enlargement

Prostate enlargement is a non cancerous condition. In most men at age 45, the prostate begins to increase in size. It can continue to grow for the rest of a man's life. The activity of a key hormone helps to cause the prostate to start growing. It is not a cancer nor does it lead to cancer. However, a man can have prostate enlargement and cancer at the same time.

Symptoms include frequent urination, incomplete emptying of the bladder, a weak or interrupted urine stream and difficulty starting urination.

If not tended to, as symptoms progress, they may experience differing social consequences. They stay close to a bathroom. They reserve seats on the aisle. They wear dark clothing to conceal leakage. They may nap frequently to make up for loss of sleep at night.

Treat usually happens in one of three ways: observation (to see if symptoms worsen), medication or surgery.

Prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is a serious disease because it is a malignant condition. Malignant tissue is present in the prostate and the malignancy can spread to other parts of the body. Although prostate cancer can occur in men of all ages, it affects one in every ten men but is most commonly found in men 40 and older. (Around 181,000 men will be diagnosed and 31,000 will die this year of prostate cancer (about the same number of women will die of breast cancer during the same time.)

In Dr. Bob Arnot's new book he says "Most men already have it (prostate cancer) by the time they hit middle age. He cites autopsies showing that 25 percent of men in their 30s and 40 percent of men in their 50s have signs of prostate cancer in its latent stage.

In its early stages, prostate cancer may not cause urinary symptoms. Therefore, routine rectal examinations and/or other tests are important in detecting cancer early. When caught early, prostate cancer has a 90% cure rate. If, however, it has spread beyond the prostate, it is much more difficult to treat. Once the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes and other organs, there is no cure, only treatment of the disease. In its advanced stages - when cure is most difficult - prostate cancer may produce symptoms that are similar to an enlarged prostate: frequent urination, difficulty starting urination, incomplete emptying of bladder, blood or pus in urine, blood in semen, low back pain, interrupted urine stream, or a weak urine stream.

If you're over 40

What every man over 40 should do. Have a digital rectal exam as part of your annual checkup. (If you have a family history of prostate cancer, start these checkups at 35.) You may also want to take a PSA blood test and/or ultrasound. Openly discuss any changes in urinary habits or bothersome symptoms with your doctor. Early diagnosis of the most serious prostate disease - prostate cancer - increases your changes of a cure (90%).

There are side-effects. The most serious side-effects resulting from prostate surgery, are impotence and incontinence (loss of bladder control). Impotence may result if the nerves to the penis, which are very close to the urethra, need to be removed during surgery. Incontinence may result if the prostate is removed, because the bladder may then lose its ability to hold back urine.

Prostate treatment concerns - Most men now take an active role in treatment decisions for prostate cancer. The factors they say are very important include: slow the cancer, extend life, improve life quality, limit side effects, relieve pain, maintain sexual function and lower cost. Besides, it may save your life as well as your lifestyle.  

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