Oct 11, 2019

Prostate Facts

I was surprised to read researchers found that seventy five percent of men over fifty were not able to identify the prostate’s main function correctly. That is a bit troubling as they are group likely to have problems.

About one man in nine will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime, but only one in thirty nine will die of this disease. About 80% of men who reach age eighty have cancer cells in their prostate. According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in US men, behind skin cancer.

The prostate is about the size of a ping pong ball, weighs about an ounce, and is located between the base of the penis and the rectum. The gland is responsible for supplying seminal fluid that mixes with sperm, helping it survive and travel from the testes.

Just over one-third of respondents were able to correctly identify associated disorders, such as Erectile Dysfunction (ED), and benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH). Benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH), and erectile dysfunction (ED) are separate problems, but curable. BPH causes problems in the bathroom and ED in the bedroom. A range of treatments can relieve enlarged prostate symptoms, such as medications, minimally-invasive office procedures, and surgery.

Prostate cancer comes in many varieties and most are slow growing and non-life threatening. However, there are some that escape the prostate and move to other parts of the body. These are called metastatic prostate cancer and can grow in organs, bones, lymph nodes, etc.

The PSA test is a blood test used primarily to screen for prostate cancer. It measures the amount of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in the blood. A score of less than 4 is considered a safe level, 4 to 10 is suspicious, and above that is considered dangerous. PSA is a protein produced by both cancerous and noncancerous tissue in the prostate. The test became very popular and led to more aggressive treatment than necessary, so lately doctors are less apt to prescribe the test for men over 70, because many types of prostate cancer are slow growing. The problem is that some are fast growing and if not caught, could be fatal. Another test is the uncomfortable rectal finger test to find abnormalities on the prostate surface.

Bottom line is that it is good to be tested and not to fear the word cancer when it comes to prostate. Ninety two percent of men who have caught it early survive and die of other causes, not because of the cancer.

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