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Taking A Proactive Approach Toward Prostate Care

By Kelly Kwiatkowski and Joe Leonard

In 1994, at age 59, Norman returned from the Gulf War. Aside from tendinitis of the knee, he felt healthy. His PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test was well below the level that indicates cancer.

To be safe, his urologist performed an ultrasound and found something that looked like a stone. The biopsy revealed prostate cancer.

A year earlier, in 1993, Michael had gone through a similar experience. He felt perfectly fine when he had a routine medical examination. Although Michael's doctor told him he was too young for prostate cancer, Michael insisted on having a PSA test. Two PSA tests confirmed dangerously high scores, and a biopsy later confirmed the cancer.

These two men, General Norman Schwarzkopf and famed financier Michael Milken, have teamed up to educate the public about the prostate gland, prostate disease and the importance of testing. Although prostate cancer awareness has increased significantly over the past 10 years, the incidence of the disease also has increased. More than half a million new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed every year, resulting in more than 200,000 deaths worldwide.

What You Should Know About the Prostate

Headshot of distinguished looking older man. - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark The prostate is a walnut-sized sex gland that surrounds the neck of the bladder and the urethra (a tube that carries urine from the bladder). Its job is to secrete a fluid that forms part of the semen.

Almost all men will have some kind of prostate disease in their lifetime. The causes are not known, but it's speculated that tissue inflammation and an imbalance of male sex hormones, such as testosterone, may be at fault. The most common prostate diseases are benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), inflammatory prostatitis and cancer. BPH is an enlargement of the prostate, and it is very common. It's present in more than 50 percent of men by age 60. As a man ages, his risk increases. When the prostate grows large enough to constrict the urethra, uncomfortable urination problems develop, such as delay and difficulty in initiating a urinary stream, stopping and starting urination several times during voiding, and dribbling at the end of urination.

An enlargement also may cause the bladder wall to thicken. This can reduce the ability to store urine and results in a frequent need to urinate. The symptoms of BPH and prostate cancer are very similar, so it is important to see your doctor right away if you are experiencing these symptoms.

For men under the age of 50, prostatitis, a benign (non-cancerous), inflammatory condition, is the most common prostate disease - so common, in fact, that some estimates show at least half of all men, at some point in their lives, will develop symptoms. These symptoms can include a frequent and urgent need to urinate; pelvic, groin or low back pain; and pain or burning when urinating. There are a number of treatment options for BPH and prostatitis, and neither disease develops into prostate cancer.

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