Men's Health Month and Prostate Cancer
June is Men's Health month -- a yearly tradition that acknowledges preventable diseases that most heavily affect men and encourages the men in your life to get frequent check-ups. It's not the most fun topic of discussion, but the fact remains that on average, men die five years younger than women and at higher disease rates. Men are also more likely to be uninsured and therefore do not get checkups as frequently as they should. Many diseases that affect men are completely preventable with yearly physicals, exercise and dietary improvements. One of the most common diseases only found in men -- prostate cancer.
Prostate Cancer and Early Detection
It is possible to detect prostate cancer before the patient shows symptoms. As with most diseases, the earlier it's detected, the more likely treatment will be successful. Screening for prostate cancer is actually quite simple; the blood testing for prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level along with a digital rectal exam, during which the doctor physically feels the prostate gland. If any abnormalities are noticed either with an elevated or rising PSA or on the digital exam the doctor may do a prostate biopsy for further examination to see if cancer is present. The challenge is that a lot of primary care physicians no longer to digital rectal exams and this is something men should ask their doctor to do to assure they receive a full prostate cancer screening.
- Frequent urination
- Trouble urinating or a weak urine stream
- Waking up at night to urinate often
- Erectile dysfunction
- Blood in semen or urine
- Burning or pain while urinating
- Pelvic discomfort
These symptoms can be related to prostate cancer, Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy (BPH) a non-cancerous condition or a bladder disorder. Regardless, if you or a loved one experience these, it's better to be safe than sorry; schedule an appointment with your doctor.
How to Prevent Prostate Cancer
While the exact cause(s) of prostate cancer are largely unknown, there are certain steps you can take to minimize your risk of developing it.
Treating Prostate Cancer
While there are a variety of treatment options for prostate cancer including surgery, external radiation and hormone therapy, Chicago Prostate Cancer Center specializes in brachytherapy. This is a minimally invasive process where small radioactive implants, or seeds, are inserted into the prostate. These seeds slowly emit radiation that kill malignant cancer cells while remaining perfectly safe for healthy tissue. Most patients are able to return to normal life within 24-48 hours. For more information on brachytherapy, we published a FAQ on the subject here.
So encourage the men in your life to get yearly checkups and to start leading healthier lifestyles. The last thing you want is for a preventable disease to become worse. Happy Men's Health Month!