It is easy to forget about health screening while we live in a tropical bubble. Regular health screening reminders which are part of everyday media in developed countries, can easily be forgotten when you live far from the madding crowd. Women, for some reason, seem to able to keep on top of it a little more than men do.
So for those of you that might have forgotten…IT’S MOVEMBER!!
“Movember” is an annual, month-long event involving the growing of moustaches during the month of November to raise awareness of prostate cancer. The Movember Foundation runs the Movember charity event, and you can go “www.movember.com” to find out more about it.
What is the PROSTATE GLAND
The prostate is an exocrine gland of the male reproductive system, and exists directly under the bladder, in front of the rectum. An exocrine gland is one whose secretions end up outside the body e.g. prostate gland and sweat glands. It is approximately the size of a walnut.
The urethra – a tube that goes from the bladder to the end of the penis and carries urine and semen out of the body – goes through the prostate. When a male climaxes (has an orgasm) contractions force the prostate to secrete this fluid into the urethra and leave the body through the penis. The cells in the prostate gland also produce a protein called PSA (prostate-specific antigen).
As the urethra goes through the prostate: the prostate gland is also involved in urine control with the use of prostate muscle fibers. These muscle fibers in the prostate contract and release, controlling the flow of urine flowing through the urethra.
In the vast majority of cases, the prostate cancer starts in the gland cells – this is called adenocarcinoma. Prostate cancer is mostly a very slow progressing disease. In fact, many men die of old age, without ever knowing they had prostate cancer – it is only when an autopsy is done that doctors know it was there. Several studies have indicated that perhaps about 80% of all men in their eighties had prostate cancer when they died, but nobody knew, not even the doctor. During the early stages of prostate cancer there are usually no symptoms. Most men at this stage find out they have prostate cancer after a routine check up or blood test.
When symptoms do exist, they are usually one or more of the following:
Waking frequently at night to urinate
Sudden or urgent need to urinate
Difficulty in starting to urinate
Slow flow of urine and difficulty in stopping
Discomfort when urinating
Blood in the urine or semen
Decrease in libido (sex urge)
Reduced ability to get an erection
Nobody is really sure of what the specific causes are. There are so many possible factors, including age, race, lifestyle, medications, and genetics, to name a few.
- Age - Prostate cancer is rare among men under the age of 45, but much more common after the age of 50.
- Genetics - In the USA prostate cancer is significantly more common and also more deadly among Afro-Americans than White-Americans. Men with a family history (brother / father) have an increased risk. If a man carries the BRCA gene he is also at higher risk.
- Diet – One study suggests that men with low risk prostate cancer found that following an intensive healthy diet and lifestyle regime focusing on low meat and high vegetable and fruit intake, regular exercise, yoga stretching, meditation and support group participation, can alter the way that genes behave and change the progress of cancer. Other studies have indicated that lack of vitamin D & a diet high in red meat may raise a person’s chances of developing prostate cancer.
- Medication– Some studies say there might be a link between the daily use of anti-inflammatory medicines and prostate cancer risk. A study found that statins, which are used to lower cholesterol levels, may lower a person’s risk of developing prostate cancer.
- Obesity - Another study found a clear link between obesity and raised prostate cancer risk, as well as a higher risk of metastasis and death among obese people who develop prostate cancer.
- Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)-Men who have had gonorrhea have a higher chance of developing prostate cancer.
TESTING FOR PROSTATE CANCER
The PSA – The PSA blood test looks for the presence in the blood of a protein that is produced specifically by prostate cells called Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA). The presence of an elevated PSA does not necessarily mean prostate cancer is present as there are other medical conditions that can lead to a PSA result outside the normal range. (This test is available directly at Prodia Laboratory).
The DRE – The DRE involves the doctor inserting a gloved finger in the anus, where it is possible to feel part of the surface of the prostate. Irregularities include swelling or hardening of the prostate, or lumps on the surface that may indicate development of a tumor, or other problems. The drawback to this test is that the doctor can feel only part of the prostate, so may miss irregularities beyond reach.
Biopsy – A Biopsy is a small tissue sample taken with a spring-loaded needle. This normally conducted by a specialist urologist.
These simple screening tests have had a tremendous effect on the early detection of prostate cancer. Adopting these suggestions will identify the men with aggressive prostate cancer who are potentially going to die if not treated. The DRE and the PSA are advisable as an annual prevention screen in all men over 50 years of age. While these tests are a little painful and perhaps embarrassing, they may save a lot more pain and heartache in the future.
So to all you men out there, BE AWARE & GROW YOUR HAIR!
Kim Patra is a qualified Midwife & Nurse Practioner who has been living and working in Bali for over 30 years. She now runs her own Private Practice & Mothers & Babies center at her Community Health Care office in Sanur.
Kim is happy to discuss any health concerns that you have and may be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or office phone 085105-775666 or https://www.facebook.com/CHC Bali
Copyright © 2018 Kim Patra
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