By Roz Jones
Jerry Orbach; Red Buttons; Clarabell on the Howdy Doody Show; Don Ameche; Telly Savales; and Bill Bixby (The Hulk) – all these actors had one thing in common; they all died of prostate cancer.
Occurring more frequently after age 45 and by age 80, prostate cancer is the most common cancer found in men. It is estimated that half the men found to have cancer of the prostate have an early form of the disease that has not spread outside the prostate gland. If the cancer is not discovered early, it may spread to other parts of the body.
To determine if one has prostate cancer, a blood test along with a rectal exam is performed. If cancer is suspected, your doctor may refer you to a urologist or oncologist who will recommend a biopsy of the gland. An ultrasound and x-ray of the kidneys and bladder may also be recommended. If the biopsy is positive, a CT scan will be performed to determine if cancer has spread to the bones.
Depending upon the man’s age, overall health, and whether or not sexual function is to be preserved; may define the course of treatment. So too, if the disease has spread, other options will be considered. If, for example, the cancer is localized within the prostate; it may be removed. The downside is that removal of the prostate may cause impotence. However, there are surgical procedures wherein the nerves which control the ability to have erections can be preserved.
As mentioned earlier, the symptoms of prostate cancer may not reveal themselves for years, but if they do occur they would include: urinating many times during the night; unable to urinate; burning and pain during urination; blood in the urine; painful ejaculations; and pain in the lower back.
The other condition which may mirror prostate cancer is prostatitis. This is an inflammation of the prostate gland and is caused by a urinary tract infection that has spread to the prostate. Accompanied by fever, chills, and pain around the base of the penis and behind the scrotum, you may have an urge to move your bowels or may find it difficult to urinate. Antibiotics are the recommended course of treatment.
For more information on prostate cancer; there are a plethora of resources available on the National Cancer Institute’s website at www.cancer.gov/prostate/ or you can visit your local library or book store and learn as much as you can about this disease. It seems there are so many hidden diseases affecting men, most of which cannot be detected early. But in this case, having rectal exams frequently can make all the difference in ascertaining if you have a prostate problem.
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