American Foundation for Urologic Disease
Launches National Educational Outreach
Baltimore, MD, September 1, 1999 Thousands of men die each year of fear and embarrassment fear of visiting their physician when suffering from prostate problems -- and millions suffer needlessly as a result of ignorance or apathy. In response, the Prostate Health Council of the American Foundation for Urologic Disease (AFUD) has inaugurated Prostate Health Month in September to educate men on prostate disease, treatment and maintaining prostate health.
Prostate problems including Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) or enlarged prostate, prostatitis and cancer are extremely common. In fact, eight in 10 men will have eventually develop an enlarged prostate and one in 10 men will develop prostate cancer. Despite the prevalence of prostate disease, men lack awareness about prostate health or are reluctant to seek treatment.
"There are many myths about prostate disease for example, that it only affects older men, that most prostate problems are cancer-related, that few treatment options are available and these myths are detrimental to mens health," said Tom Bruckman, executive director, AFUD. "By launching Prostate Health Month, we are striving to change misperceptions and give men the encouragement they may need to overcome embarrassment or fear of being examined."
Prostate Health Month: Raising Awareness of Prostate Health Among American Men
Bringing together current educational efforts on Prostate Cancer and BPH education, including Prostate Cancer Awareness Week (September 20 24) and Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia Week, (September 13-17) "Prostate Health Month" is supported by nationwide public service announcements which feature actor Hector Elizondo, reaching an American audience via television, radio and print. The public service announcements encourage men to become educated about prostate health and to take action if they experience prostate problems. Further, the public service announcements also include a montage of men from various backgrounds and professions emphasizing the importance of prostate health to all men.
The Prostate, Its Function and Its Diseases
The prostate is a gland of the male reproductive system located in front of the rectum and just below the bladder. About the size and shape of a walnut, the prostate wraps around the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder out through the tip of the penis. The main function of the prostate is to produce fluid for semen, which transports sperm. The three most common conditions affecting the prostate are benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), prostatitis and prostate cancer.
BPH, a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate, is the most common of prostate conditions among men. In fact, more than 50 percent of men age 60, and 80 percent of men age 80, are estimated to suffer from BPH. The enlargement often squeezes the urethra where it runs through the prostate. Symptoms of BPH include difficulty initiating urination, weak urinary stream, and waking several times at night to urinate. BPH is more common among older men, because as a man ages, his prostate naturally enlarges.
BPH can be treated by a variety of methods, including, prescription medications and surgery. Physicians may advise patients with non-symptomatic BPH to take a "watchful waiting" approach to the disease, intervening with treatment if symptoms develop. It is important to note that BPH does not necessarily lead to cancer; however, a man can have BPH and cancer at the same time.
Prostatitis, an inflammation of the prostate, is not contagious and modern medicine does not yet clearly understand the way in which the prostate becomes infected. The bacteria that cause prostatitis may get into the prostate from the urethra by backward flow of infected urine. Both acute and chronic prostatitis can be treated with antibiotics; however, noninfectious prostatitis is not treatable with antibiotics although muscle relaxants, hot sitz baths, periodic prostatic massage and other treatments may offer some relief of symptoms.
Prostate cancer is a malignant tumor that most often begins in the outer part of the prostate. As the tumor grows, it may spread to the inner part of the prostate. Treatment options for prostate cancer include watchful waiting, hormonal therapy, radiation, brachytherapy and surgery. Two tests critical to detecting men at higher risk of prostate cancer and other prostate diseases are the digital rectal exam (DRE) and the prostate-specific antigen test (PSA test). A high PSA can indicate a greater chance of developing prostate cancer. However, a high PSA does not necessarily mean cancer is present; many men with BPH also have elevated PSA levels.
"Most of my patients lack knowledge about prostate health and are afraid of diagnosis and the potential side effects of various treatments including impotence and incontinence," said Leonard S. Marks, M.D., founding Medical Director of the Urological Sciences Research Foundation and Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Surgery/Urology at the UCLA School of Medicine. " With increased public attention to prostate problems, fear or embarrassment should no longer be a barrier to maintaining prostate health as there are many patient-friendly treatments available for common prostate problems."
In addition, there are many ways men can maintain prostate health, including getting regular check-ups, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and using dietary supplements, such as Saw Palmetto, which help promote and maintain normal urinary flow.
Prostate Health Month, a public awareness and education campaign, is sponsored by the Prostate Health Council of the American Foundation for Urologic Disease, and made possible by an unrestricted educational grant from Warner-Lambert Company.
To receive more information about prostate health, men and their loved ones can call the American Foundation for Urologic Disease at:
|It's ironic that with all our efforts this month
to make men lose their fear regarding prostate health,
September has also been declared
National Chicken Month
The message: We've got to keep our sense of humor about this!