Prostate Health Awareness Month
September is prostate health awareness month and with it brings the importance of raising public awareness to the importance of prostate health, diseases and concerns. Early screenings for prostate health and disease prevention are essential. Education for symptoms, risk factors and natural prevention of prostate disease should be discussed, so that patients can get treatment early and prevent more severe sequela later on.
Understanding The Prostate Gland
In order to keep optimum prostate health, it is essential to understand the basics of the prostate gland. About the size of a walnut, the prostate gland is responsible for creating and secreting fluid, which helps keep sperm nourished. Prostatic secretions, combined with sperm, are known as semen. The prostate gland itself is positioned between the bladder and penis, and allows through it the passage of urine through the urethra. Hence, when the prostate enlarges (hypertrophies) in older men, it begins to impinge on the urethra, blocking the passage of urine and in turn creating the urinary symptoms most men see with BPH.
Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy (BPH)
Prostate health is something that most men do not often think about. However, with greater than 50% of men aged 60 years old and older and up to 90% of men aged 70 years and older, Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy (BPH) is a concern most men will face in their lifetime. BPH is essentially enlargement of the prostate gland. With little innate consequence, the side effects of its enlargement usually are the presenting symptoms which warrant a doctor’s visit. Difficulty initiating urination, urinating excessively at night and feelings of incomplete urinary voiding are just some of the common signs of BPH, which all adult men should watch out for.
Prostate cancer is another significant concern amongst most older men. Although it is amongst the most common cancers, fortunately it has one of the best treatment rates and subsequent lowest mortality rates amongst cancers in men. Treatment modalities include hormone therapy, radiation, and surgery.
The digital rectal exam can be done in your doctor’s office and is a great first step in detecting prostate health. It can detect size, approximate density and texture without requiring more invasive measures. Other methods of PSA health are checking and monitoring your blood Prostate Specific Antigen levels (PSA), getting a prostate ultrasound and a prostate biopsy if some of the less invasive measures indicate a necessity.
If you, or someone you know, have been experiencing symptoms of prostate enlargement, or if you have never had your prostate checked, do not have a family history of prostate disease and are, or above the age of 40, speak with your primary care physician about prostate health. With proper awareness, screenings and treatment, you can have a long and fulfilling life free of worry from prostate disease.