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Prostate Health: What Men Should Know

Friday July 25, 2014

After writing many articles about cancer screening, it’s time to talk about men’s health – and more specifically, prostate health.

While there is no provincial screening program for prostate cancer like there is for colorectal cancer, it is important for men to be aware of it.

The prostate is an important organ that only men have. It is located between your bladder and rectum and is shaped like a donut. Running through the centre of your prostate is your urethra – the tube that brings pee and semen down your penis when you’re going to the bathroom or having sex. The prostate helps you to control your pee and push out semen when you are having sex as well as produce the liquid in your semen to protect your sperm.

Prostate cancer happens when unhealthy cells in the prostate start to grow much faster than your normal, healthy prostate cells. This can cause your prostate to grow bigger and it does not work like it should. When this happens it can cause problems.

If cancer cells in your prostate start to grow, your prostate may become swollen and squeeze tighter on your urethra. Remember when you were a kid and you could pee clear across the bathroom to the toilet? As we get older, it is normal for your stream to get weaker, but there are some signs that may mean you are having prostate health troubles, such as: having a hard time starting to pee, your flow is really slow, dribbling, uncontrolled leaking, or you have to sit down to pee. You could also have some burning or pain when you pee, or you may notice blood in your pee or semen.

Most commonly, you might find yourself getting up three or more times at night to go pee.
If you are experiencing any of these issues, you should get checked.

Getting your prostate checked isn’t the most fun thing to do. It can be a little bit awkward, but it is very important to do. There are three things that you and your healthcare provider can do to make sure you don’t have prostate cancer: talk about your prostate health, prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test, and most importantly a rectal examination.

Most men want to avoid a rectal examination, but it is the best test to do because it’s the best way for your healthcare provider to tell if there’s a problem or not. During this test, they will be able to feel if your prostate feels big or lumpy which may indicate a problem. The PSA test is another option, but it is not the most accurate when screening for cancer.

Most men develop prostate cancer around age 60, but it can happen earlier too. Typically, prostate cancer screening starts when you turn 50, but if you have a family history or symptoms of a swollen prostate we may start earlier (around age 40). You should continue to screen for prostate cancer every one to two years between the ages of 50 and 70 years.

Even though screening tests are available, it’s good to know that you can help to prevent prostate cancer (and many other types of cancer) by making healthy lifestyle choices.

Low-fibre and high-fat diets can change your testosterone levels and make cancer cells grow faster. Even being overweight can increase your risk of developing prostate cancer without having any other risk factors. Therefore, you should try to eat a high-fiber, low-fat diet rich with vegetables and fruits.

Avoid fried foods, and cut down on using lard, Crisco, butter and margarine and eat more wild rice and whole grains. Another great way to maintain a healthy body weight is to exercise regularly.

Men, do not ignore your prostate health. Prostate cancer can be treated if caught early. Make sure you talk to your healthcare provider. Do not be shy, it is their job to listen to you and talk to you about your health – including your prostate!

If you have any questions or ideas for future articles, please email me at asksw@tbh.net. Until next month, your health is in your hands.


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