Article furnished by Dr. Jay Kulkin -- It's Movember, no it's not a typo. November has been designated as the Men's health awareness month.
More specifically, it to raise awareness of prostate and testicular cancers. I'm going to address both of these separately as I feel they each deserve adequate focus.
You mention a prostate check/exam to a man and he cringes. Every man dreads the "finger test" and it's this fear and discomfort that keeps many men from having an annual exam. But this test is important and this simple test could save your life.
I'm often asked, what is the prostate and why should I get it checked. The prostate is a gland that sits below the bladder and in front of the rectum. The urethra runs through the middle of the prostate, which carries urine from the bladder and out through the penis. The prostate is also responsible for producing semen, the fluid that nourishes and protects sperm.
As men get older the prostate gland grows in size and can lead to things like pain or difficulty urinating, rectal pain and fever. There are three prostate conditions:
1. Prostatitis, which is inflammation of the prostate due to an infection. This can typically be treated with antibiotics.
2. Enlarged prostate also known as benign prostatic hypertrophy or BPH. This leads to difficulty or painful urination and can be treated with medicine and in sometimes surgery.
3. Prostate cancer, next to skin cancer, this is the most common form of cancer in men. Once diagnosed the treatment range from: surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and/or hormone therapy.
None of these things are pleasant, but that's why it's so important to have screening done, so that if there is a problem it can be caught and treated early.
There are typically 2 types of prostate screening.
1. The dreaded "finger test" also known as digital rectal examination. A doctor inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into the rectum to feel the size and shape of the prostate. Using this method a doctor can detect an enlarged prostate, lumps and even tenderness caused by prostatitis. The exam only lasts a few seconds.
2. There is also a blood test known as Prostate-specific antigen or PSA. PSA is a protein the prostate that can be elevated if there is inflammation or enlargement of the prostate. Until recently, many doctors recommended yearly PSA testing on men over 50. There has been some debate because there are various factors that can cause a man's PSA level to fluctuate. So just because your PSA number is higher does not always mean you have prostate cancer. You can speak with your doctor and see what his or her individual thoughts are on this.
It is important that you speak with your doctor about prostate screening. It is recommended to offer prostate cancer screening to all men over the age of 50 who are low to average risk. However, if you have certain risk factors like family history and certain ethnicities screening could start at the age of 40. It's always important to remember if you are experiencing symptoms, regardless of your age, you should address these with your doctor.
Dr. Jay Kulkin, Founder of WIFH in Atlanta, is an internationally recognized laser expert and teaches doctors from from within the U.S. and around the world about laser techniques. He is a Board Certified Gynecologist and is often quoted in the media and featured on a number of TV networks including CNN, Headline News and local Atlanta networks on laser issues. He has been practicing in Atlanta since 1983 and is a Fellow (the highest distinction achievable) of the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery and is the former Executive Director of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia Women's Health Program, which he was instrumental in creating. Dr. Kulkin is committed to bringing the latest advances in laser research to his patients.