Attention all men: Here is a quiz just for you
1)How many times do get up each night to use the bathroom?2)Between your house and Denver, how many convenient rest stops can you count?3)Do two hour long meetings pose a significant challenge to your bladder?4)Do bathroom breaks require an act of planning because they take longer than they used to?If your answers are different than a few years ago, read on.
Dear Doc,My husband gets up at least three times every night to go to the bathroom. Im worried something is wrong. What should I tell him to do? Up at night in Edwards
Dear Up,I am sure you know my answer … He should go see his doctor. I would guess too that you have already thought of that solution. The truth is that women make most health care decisions for themselves and their family. Men often treat health like asking for directions, only getting help when something has really gone wrong. To make matters worse, I suspect most men would rather pay their taxes than get their prostate checked. Why all the attention then to the prostate, a small organ only men have that cannot be seen and rarely (in young men anyways) gives symptoms? Those symptoms however can be pretty unpleasant and include more frequent urination both during the day and at night, decreased urinary stream, dribbling after urination, urinary urgency (or when you have to go you have to go!), urinary incontinence and straining to urinate. These facts about prostate cancer may surprise you:
Prostate cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in men, led only by ling cancer. 232,000 men are diagnosed with cancer yearly, and 30,000 men will die from it. If you do not smoke, prostate cancer is actually more common than lung, colon, bladder and kidney cancers – combined! The risk of prostate cancer increases with age, increasing after age 50, with more than 70 percent of all cases diagnosed after age 65. It is a slow growing cancer. 98 percent of men survive 5 years after diagnosis, 85 percent of men after 10 years and 54 percent of men are living with their cancer 15 years after diagnosis.
But, prostate cancer is not the only reason to be concerned about your prostate. BPH or Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy can be the culprit for the very same symptoms. Facts about BPH are remarkable too: BPH is so common in men some believe all men will have some degree of it if they live long enough. BPH does not lead to an increased risk of prostate cancer. Men over age 40 often begin to show some signs of BPH. 90 percent of men over age 90 have BPH.
The debate and challenge for you and your doctor is in the screening. Recognizing that it is a very slow growing cancer, and even BPH symptoms progress at a relative snails pace most men do not need yearly screening. That screening when necessary includes the DRE or Digital Rectal Exam, and PSA or Prostatic Specific Antigen test. New evidence suggests that screening can begin between age 45 and 50 for men without any symptoms. The level of the PSA test is helpful in guiding follow up screening which may be as long as 4 years in men with PSA tests less than 1. Although PSA blood levels of 4 are still in the normal range, more often screening is indicated if your test is in that range. PSA tests above 10 are very concerning for the presence of cancer. Your doctor is your best source for your unique screening recommendations.If you are developing symptoms of an enlarging prostate it is a good idea to be checked carefully. If all looks well, there are some simple things you can do which helps ease BPH symptoms which may occur with minimal enlargement of the prostate. These things include: Go to the bathroom regularly, rather than try to wait too long which strains the bladder. Decrease caffeine and alcohol consumption especially at night as they act as diuretics. Check with your doctor before taking over the counter cold and sinus medications which contain decongestants and antihistamines which may make the symptoms much worse. Try Saw Palmetto, an herbal supplement which has been shown to be effective in decreasing prostatic symptoms.If that is not enough, there are medications and other options your doctor can offer. If prostate cancer is detected, treatment options are many and often very effective and well tolerated. Testing can improve your quality of live in many ways whether you have BPH or prostate cancer. The worry about getting checked is the worst part, so do not avoid seeing your doctor, the two of you can decide what is best for you.Dr. Drew Werner of the Eagle Valley Medical Center writes a regular column for the Daily. He encourages health questions. Write him by e-mail to email@example.com or c/o Editor, Vail Daily, P.O. Box 81, Vail, CO81658.
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