Issue No. 4
Protect Your ProstateDate: April 24, 2009
Men are less likely than women to seek help when they have a medical complaint. But, when it comes to symptoms of prostate problems, there’s no good reason to put it off
Are prostate problems inevitable?
About half of all men will experience the symptoms of an enlarged prostate—also called benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH—by age 75. And growing older also increases the risk for other prostate problems, including prostatitis and prostate cancer. It’s important to know that one problem doesn’t inevitably lead to the other. For example, you don’t get prostate cancer because you have BPH. But you can have multiple prostate problems at the same time. For most men, prostate changes aren’t cancerous; it’s important to get any symptoms checked because there are similarities among prostate conditions and other diseases.
What’s new in treatments for prostate problems?
Most noncancer problems are treated successfully with drugs. Cancer that’s identified quickly may be managed by surgery or radiation. When surgery is chosen, minimally invasive, robotic techniques are now available. Also exciting is that Johns Hopkins researchers are developing new treatments for prostate cancer using heat therapy and nanotechnology. Our goal for this is to be able to treat prostate cancer even if it has spread beyond the prostate.
What are the symptoms, and how do I know when it’s time to see a doctor?
The prostate gland surrounds the tube that passes urine. When there’s a problem, men may begin experiencing urinary symptoms such as urgency, frequency and burning. They may also notice less urine flow despite frequency and urgency. When those symptoms appear, it’s time to see the doctor—it’s certainly not worth waiting until those symptoms become severe and disrupt your life. Plus, a physician will want to rule out other conditions, such as bladder disease, with similar symptoms. Regardless of whether you have symptoms, all men should begin having annual prostate exams beginning at age 50 to screen for cancer. If you are African-American or have a family history of prostate cancer, you should be screened even earlier, starting at age 45.
Learn more about prostate health and treatments at hopkinsmedicine.org/urology. For appointments or consultations, call 877-546-1872.