by Nikki Denton
For New Pittsburgh Courier
Men, let’s talk about prostate health.
Do you find yourself going to the bathroom more than once during the night regularly? Have you discovered that your urine flow has weakened or is intermittent? Have you noticed blood in your urine or semen?
If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, it may be time to talk to your health care professional about prostate issues.
The prostate is a walnut-sized gland that sits under the bladder in front of the rectum. It surrounds the urethra, the narrow tube that carries urine and semen out of the body. The prostate gland grows a good bit during puberty and then doesn’t change much until about age 40, when it begins growing again and, in many men, doesn’t stop. Half of men aren’t bothered by their growing prostate. But the others will develop one of three prostate diseases; enlarged prostate, prostate cancer, or prostatitis. Other symptoms include painful or burning urination, difficulty with obtaining and keeping an erection, painful urination and ejaculation, and frequent pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, or upper thighs.
Age: Jeff Cohen, MD, urologist at Allegheny General Hospital, says that age is the number one risk factor in prostate cancer. “If they live long enough, most men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, because it’s a normal degeneration of the prostate.”
The incidence of prostate issues, including cancer, rises rapidly each decade after age 40. For example, the probability of being diagnosed with prostate cancer is 1 in 7,964 for men younger than 40 years, 1 in 37 for men aged 40 through 59 years, one in 15 for men aged 60 through 69 years, and 1 in 8 for men aged 70 years and older, with an overall lifetime risk of developing prostate cancer of 1 in 6. However, Cohen warns that autopsy studies reveal that the incidence of prostate cancer in males in there 20s is already 8 percent. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in men.
Race: Cohen is particularly interested in treating and advising African-American men with prostate problems because the death rate of prostate cancer deaths among Black males is alarming. Is race a factor? According to the Centers for Disease Control race is a factor, especially being African-American. Black males are more likely to die of prostate cancer than any other racial group, followed by White, Hispanic, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Asian/Pacific Islander men.
Heredity: Having a first degree relative who had prostate issues also can put you at risk.