QUESTION:I have been seeing advertisementson television about older men who have erratic bathroom problemsbecause of prostate enlargement. What can you tell me about this andcan it lead to prostate cancer?
ANSWER: It's inevitable! Almost all mendevelop some prostate enlargement if they live long enough. In fact,prostate gland enlargement is so common it affects about half of allmen over age 50, and 90 percent of men in their 70s and 80s.
The good news is that an increasing number of medications andsurgical options are now available, making it easier than ever to treatit. Here's what you should know.
The medical term for an enlarged prostate is benign prostatichyperplasia or BPH -- a natural occurrence in middle-aged and oldermen. What happens is, as the prostate enlarges, it can squeeze down onthe urethra (the tube through which urine passes out of the body) andcause urinary problems.
Do you have BPH? Common symptoms include the frequent need tourinate (especially at night), sudden urge to urinate, a weak or slowurine stream, difficulty starting urination, stopping and startingagain while urinating, dribbling after urinating, straining to urinateand the feeling that you still have to go, even when you have justfinished urinating.
Cancer concernBPH is not cancer! Although some of the symptoms of BPH andprostate cancer are the same, most men with BPH don't develop prostatecancer, and BPH does not increase the chance of getting prostatecancer. If you're experiencing some of the listed symptoms, andthey've become bothersome, it's time to see your doctor. They can do adigital rectal exam to check the size of the prostate and order aprostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test to rule out prostate cancer.If your doctor does find you have BPH, you'll be referred to aurologist for further testing. What's your risk?All men over age 50 are at risk of developing BPH, and therisk increases with age. Other factors that can hasten the processinclude having a family history of the condition, being overweight,smoking and stress. BPH is also more common in white and black men thanin Asian men, and married men versus singles. Treatment optionsIf you're diagnosed with BPH, there are a variety of treatmentoptions available depending on your signs and symptoms. If yoursymptoms are minor and don't bother you too much (see the Mayo Clinics prostate self-assessment toolto help you evaluate your problem), you may want to postpone treatment,but you should still have regular check-ups to keep an eye on it.
On the other hand, if your symptoms are bothersome, the firststep is to try medication. Today, there's a variety of drugs yourdoctor can prescribe that can help relax or shrink the prostate torelieve symptoms. If medication doesn't do the trick, your next option is eithera nonsurgical therapy or surgery, which are very effective. Ask yourdoctor about the various treatment options and their possible sideeffects. If you're interested in natural remedies, you need to knowthat the popular over-the-counter herbal supplement saw palmetto, whichis taken by millions of men for enlarged prostate, may not be effectiveafter all. A 2006 scientific study of 225 men with enlarged prostate,published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that sawpalmetto did no better than a placebo pill in relieving symptoms. The herbal supplement Pygeum however, has shown promisingresults. Savvy tip: For more information, the National Kidney andUrologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse offers a free educationalbooklet "What I need to know about Prostate Problems" you can order orsee online at www.catalog.niddk.nih.gov, or call(800) 860-8747 to request a copy. Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit www.savvysenior.org.Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of "TheSavvy Senior" books. Source: The CharlestonGazette. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. Powered byYellowBrix.