Friday, September 16, 2011

Prostate Health and Cancer Awareness Month

By Diane Forrest, RN

What is a prostate and what does it do?  Since this is Prostate health and cancer awareness month, I thought I would share some facts with you. 

Some of you may have become acquainted with the prostate upon hearing about the deaths of men like Telly Savalas, Merv Griffin, Dan Fogelberg, one of my favorite singers, or Bill Bixby, also know for his role in The Hulk.  Or you may have heard about it from the survivors such as Robert De Niro, Rudy Guiliani, Nelson Mandella or Harry Belefonte, to name a few.

The prostate is a gland in the male reproductive system that secretes seminal fluids.  This fluid helps protect DNA and keeps the sperm safe during ejaculation.  Some of the disorders that can occur with the prostate include:
  • Prostatitis, which is inflammation of the Prostate gland cause by infection.  there are 3 types of Prostatis,
  • Bacterial prostatitis
  • Nonbacterial prostatitis
  • Prostatodynia

Symptoms include:
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Pain in lower back
  • Aching muscles
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent or painful urination
  • Occasional discomfort in the testicles, urethra, lower abdomen, and back
  • Discharge from the urethra, especially during first bowel movement of the day
  • Blood or urine in ejaculate
  • Low sperm count
  • Sexual difficulties
  • Frequent urination

Treatment involves either antibiotics or surgery

Prostate Cancer is another disorder of the Prostate.  It is the second leading cause of death by cancer in men, the first being lung.  It is recommended that men have annual prostate exams by the time they are 50, or if there is a family history of Prostate cancer, begin testing at the age of 40.  Tests include a PSA blood test, rectal exam, and in March a urine test was introduced that is less invasive and expected to give results within five minutes. The test is more accurate, less invasive, and gives far fewer false positives than PSA test.  Prostate Cancer is treated with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation and has a high survival rate if detected early.

So if you are a man, or have male friends or family members, encourage them to have  annual exams or visit their doctor if they experience any of the above symptoms.  Early detection is the key to an early cure.

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