Jun 02, 2014 09:58AM
By Dr. David Minkoff
In recent years, public awareness of breast cancer has soared. Pink ribbons are everywhere and advice and reports abound, from how to prevent breast cancer, to how to be safely screened for it, to alternative methods of treatment if you are diagnosed with it. This is all worthwhile data as the National Cancer Institute estimates that in 2014 there will be 232,670 new cases of breast cancer, with approximately 12.3 percent of women in the U.S. being diagnosed in their lifetime.
Conversely, prostate cancer awareness has little to no promotion, yet its statistics outrank those of breast cancer, with an estimated number of new cases in 2014 being 233,000 and approximately 15.3 percent U.S. males being diagnosed in their lifetime. So, with those statistics revealing that prostate cancer is the male equivalent of breast cancer, it is time to raise awareness of the condition.
What is the Prostate?
Whereas almost all women can identify where their breasts are and what their function is, the majority of men have little idea where their prostate is located or what role it plays in their body. Usually, those who are able to explain the function of the prostate gland have probably learned because they have prostate problems.
The prostate gland is unique to men since women don’t have one. It is part of a man’s reproductive system and is located in front of the rectum, underneath the bladder. The prostate gland encompasses the urethra, which is the tube through which urine flows, hence one of the first signs of prostate problems is decreased urine flow due to an enlargement of the prostate which then squeezes the urethra. The prostate also makes part of the seminal fluid which helps transport sperm out of a man’s body during ejaculation.
The prostate continues to grow throughout life, but very slowly after the age of twenty-five, and in a healthy state is the size of a walnut. Enlargement of the prostate gland is part of the normal aging process and usually does not become a serious problem until about age sixty.
Many men will experience some type of prostate problem during their lifetime. Men over forty-five may experience an enlargement of the prostate which can be uncomfortable and lead to more serious problems. As with female breasts, lumps in the prostate can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Benign growths are rarely a threat to life and can be safely removed.
Malignant growths (prostate cancer) can be a threat to life, not least because they can spread to other parts of the body, travelling in blood vessels or lymph vessels. After spreading, cancer cells may attach to other tissues and grow to form new tumors that may damage those tissues.
When a prostate problem is detected, most men will undergo tests to determine the cause. Prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, is a protein produced by cells of the prostate gland and a PSA test will measure the level of PSA in a man’s blood. The results are usually reported as nanograms of PSA per milliliter (ng/mL) of blood.
The higher a man’s PSA level, the more likely it is that he has prostate cancer. However, there are additional reasons for having an elevated PSA level, and some men who have prostate cancer do not have elevated PSA.
The PSA test has been widely used to screen men for prostate cancer. It is also used to monitor men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer to see if their cancer has returned after treatment or to see if they are responding to therapy.
In addition to prostate cancer, a number of benign conditions can cause a man’s PSA level to rise. The most frequent benign prostate conditions that cause an elevation in PSA level are prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate) and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) (enlargement of the prostate).
Prevention and Treatment of Prostate Problems
Woefully lacking in the media is the encouragement of men to note any subtle changes in their urine or semen flow, and also the importance of having an annual check of the area for prevention purposes. This can be done via blood work which will indicate if there is any inflammation present in the body which could indicate undetected cancer of the prostate or other areas. A rectal exam may also be performed to check the size of the prostate to see if it is enlarged.
At LifeWorks Wellness Center, all male patients, particularly those over the age of 50, are encouraged to pay attention to potential dysfunction of their prostate gland. At the first sign of trouble urinating, blood in the urine, erectile dysfunction, general pain in the lower back, hips or thighs, and pain when urinating or ejaculating, they need to see a LifeWorks practitioner immediately.
Typically, a PSA test will be ordered, and if this reveals abnormalities, then further blood work may be ordered with either a PET scan or ultrasound of the prostate. LifeWorks offers a number of alternative therapies to patients with prostate issues, including insulin potentiation therapy, ozone therapy, IV therapy and Pulsed Electromagnetic Field therapy.
Lifeworks Wellness Center has helped many patients with their prostate issues and can do the same for you.
Dr. Minkoff will be hosting a free talk entitled: Prostate Cancer: The Male Breast Cancer Come and hear Dr. Minkoff talk in detail about the information covered in this article.
Thursday, June 26, 6:30pm,
at Nature’s Food Patch, 1225 Cleveland St.,
Clearwater.For more information call Tamora at 727-466-6789 or visit LifeWorksWellnessCenter.com. See ad page 2.
Dr. David Minkoff is co-founder and Medical Director of LifeWorks Wellness Center, one of the foremost alternative health clinics in the U.S.