It seems the older a guy gets the more he has to start hearing and talking about his prostate. Considering that prostate cancer is the second most commonly occurring cancer in the United States behind skin cancer, it’s only understandable. But what’s the real deal here? How do you know you might have a problem with your prostate? How serious is it? Calm down, most of what you need to know is very reassuring.
Cancer – Not a Death Sentence: While any and all cancers have the potential to be life threatening if left untreated or not caught early, prostate cancer is among the more treatable varieties of the disease. A 2004 study conducted by Swedish scientists found that of 1000 men diagnosed with prostate cancer only 15 cases became terminal within a 10 to 15-year period. After 15 years, mortality went up to 44 men in 1000, but there is some speculation that other factors such as age may be a contributing factor. Long story short, you’re not a dead man walking if you get a cancer diagnosis… so there’s no reason to avoid routine screening and health evaluations for the purpose of skipping “bad news.”
Detection – Also Not a Death Sentence: Say the words “prostate exam” and men everywhere literally clench up. Just the thought of the infamous digital rectal exam gives NFL linebackers the cold sweats. Here’s the thing though… It’s only once every 4 years… and it’s not the only option available (although others may not be covered by your insurance company). You can also request a Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) test and/or a rectal ultrasound (which isn’t any more comfortable than a manual exam, but may be less mentally challenging).
Good Habits Can Help – Many of the same symptoms associated with prostate problems are similar to those of various sexually transmitted diseases. Pain or difficulty urinating, low urine output, frequent urgency or need to urinate, blood-tinged urine or semen, weak urinary stream, poor bladder control, pain during sex or ejaculation are all warning signs of prostate cancer, but could also be due to gonorrhea, Chlamydia, herpes or any number of other infections. Practicing safe sex and engaging in good sexual hygiene can help you rule out STDs as a cause of problems, leading you more quickly to the appropriate medical care for any prostate problems you may be experiencing.