Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Health Column – The latest on PSA tests for Prostate Cancer.


My father was diagnosed at age 77 with prostate cancer and it was at least stage three. This was twenty-five years ago and the treatment was radiation and lots of it. It gave him time but the last year was very hard on him. The radiation had caused a blood disorder that required him to have a regular blood-transfusions and good naturedly he would present himself at the hospital on the designated Friday.. My father loved his food and the day is significant… they served fish ‘n’ chips.  Eventually he required these transfusions weekly and after a short period of time he passed away aged 80.

Today there have been huge advancements in the detection and treatment of prostate cancer and the prognosis is much improved. But it is dependent on a very important factor and that is early detection.

However, one of the predictive tests for prostate cancer the PSA test is under the microscope following a long study with hundreds of thousands of men. This was in the Daily Mail health column yesterday.

The basic finding is that the PSA test taken by men who are not already symptomatic is unlikely to be accurate and does not save extra lives. Inconclusive results could lead to men being treated unnecessarily for prostate cancer for precautionary reasons, resulting in long term side effects.

There is also the issue of increasing complacency in men who have taken the test and assume they are not at risk, and then ignoring early symptoms.

Thousands of men are needlessly treated for prostate cancer because there is NO reliable test for the disease, concludes decade-long study.

  • Using a PSA blood test in screening programmes does not save extra lives
  • Experts today said there is a ‘desperate need’ for a much better way of screening
  • PSA test shouldn’t be routinely used for men with no signs of problems, they add
  • The Daily Mail has been campaigning for years to end needless prostate deaths

Here is the start of the article and I do suggest that you read the entire piece.

Thousands of men are being needlessly treated for prostate cancer because there is no reliable test for the disease, experts have warned.

A decade-long study involving 415,000 British men lays bare the fundamental flaws of the blood test that forms the cornerstone of the way prostate cancer is diagnosed.

Experts said there is a ‘desperate need’ for a much better way of screening for prostate cancer, in the same way as women are screened for breast cancer with regular mammograms.

Using a ‘prostate specific antigen’ – or PSA – blood test to screen healthy men would not save extra lives, the Oxford and Bristol-led researchers found.

The researchers admitted it remains the only method of testing men who are already showing symptoms.

But they said it should not be routinely used for men with no signs of problems.
Study leader Professor Richard Martin, of Bristol University, said: ‘PSA is currently the only tool we have, but it is a very blunt tool.

‘It detects prostate cancer in men who will not benefit from treatment, but is misses aggressive cancer in men who do need treatment.’

The Daily Mail is campaigning to end needless prostate deaths through better treatments and greater awareness.

Last month official figures revealed rising prostate cancer deaths saw it become a bigger killer than breast cancer for the first time.

The recent study that was published in the Daily Mail: PSA Test study

The important lesson from this is that men and their partners need to be aware of and identify changes in the function of their bodies.

Here is my post on the prostate and cancer that you might find helpful, along with physical signs that you should make a note of and keep in mind.

male_internal_side

What is the prostate?

The prostate gland is a very small walnut shaped structure that sits at the base of the bladder and surrounds the ejaculatory ducts at the base of the urethra. Its role is to produce an alkaline fluid that mixes with the semen from the vesicles before it is passed into the penis to be ejaculated. This probably acts as a booster for the sperm keeping them active and therefore more likely to fertilise an egg should the opportunity arise.

Some of the health issues and symptoms to be aware of.

In a young man the prostate is about the size of a walnut and it slowly gets larger as a man matures.

If it gets too large, however, it can begin to cause problems with the urinary tract resulting in frequent urination often with very little urine produced and in some cases discomfort. This is called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and is very common in men over 60 years old.

If problems with urination occur especially at night then a doctor should be consulted.

Usually a rectal examination or scans will detect the enlarged prostate and appropriate treatment prescribed. If the enlargement of the prostate and the urination problems are relatively mild then it is usually left for a period of time to see if the normal reduction in testosterone will result in a decrease in the size of the prostate.

If the enlargement of the prostate or the symptoms warrant medical intervention it is usual to prescribe either alpha-blockers (can have some nasty side effects) or a testosterone lowering drug. As the testosterone levels decrease the prostate shrinks and the urination problems are solved. However there can be side effects such as loss of sex drive and possible erectile problems.

In extreme cases surgery may be advised if the urination problem does not improve. It can however result in other problems and should be considered carefully beforehand.

Prostate cancer

Women dread the words breast, ovary or uterine cancer and for men it is prostate cancer. As with most cancers if it is found early then the chances of recovery are very good. Unfortunately the early signs of cancer can be confused with that for an enlarged prostate, which is why it is an excellent idea to consult a doctor the moment you feel there is a change to your urination in any way.

This is especially true if you develop a burning sensation or pain during urination or there is blood present in the urine. Sometimes there could also be blood in semen, pain in the back, hips or pelvis and painful ejaculation. There can also be an innocent and harmless cause of some of these symptoms but it is important to clarify the situation immediately with your doctor.

It is at this point when symptoms are present that the current research has identified that a PSA test can be effective. A blood test determines the levels of Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA). These may be higher in men with either an enlarged prostate or cancer and it is backed up by an ultrasound to establish any abnormalities in the gland.

Usually a biopsy is necessary to confirm the diagnosis and is commonly done by the doctor under local anaesthetic.

Treatment

These days if the cancer is in the early stages and slow growing it will be monitored regularly to determine if the next stage in the treatment is necessary. Treatments are being refined and reviewed continually and your doctor will have the latest information at hand.

The most common type of surgery is a radical prostatectomy where the whole prostate and some surrounding tissue is removed. This may result in loss of sexual function or urinary problems that may not correct themselves. There is a modified operation that reduces the risk of nerve damage and therefore impotence that some men will be offered if appropriate.

Radiation treatment is used in some cases prior to surgery to kill cancerous cells and shrink the tumour and following surgery to ensure that all harmful cells have been eliminated. There are two kinds of radiation, externally beamed into the prostate and internally where radioactive “seeds” are placed in the prostate itself, into or near the actual tumour. There can be some side effects with this treatment including impotence and incontinence, which will have to be managed in the long term.

Following radiation, patients may be offered hormonal treatment to prevent the cancer from reoccurring or if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. This will usually result in menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes as well as a loss of sexual desire.

Now to a different perspective on prostate cancer treatment.

This in no way negates the need to get checked, as a physical examination is key to determining if there is a problem with the prostate. Whilst unpleasant (and trust me we women have equally invasive examinations) a few minutes of embarrassment or discomfort is better than years of treatment and doubt about the outcome.

Today treatments are targeted very specifically in the area affected and as you will read a different approach to beginning treatment is usually followed if the cancer is in the very early stages. A ‘watch carefully and wait and see’ strategy is particularly relevant if the patient is in their late 70s and 80s as certain cancers have a less aggressive growth pattern as we age.

Do read the article so that should you face a diagnosis of prostate cancer you can ask all the right questions to ensure that you explore all the options available. Be aware that different consultants have their own approach to specific cancers and whilst the ‘wait and see’ strategy is widely adopted in the UK it may be very different where you live.

My opinion is that everyone should have a basic understanding of their body and how the various organs work.

This particularly applies to gender specific health concerns such as breast and prostate cancer.

Anything that is unusual in your long term functions that lasts more than a few days, and which results in symptoms such as those I describe above, need to be investigated by a doctor.

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/09/06/survive-prostate-cancer-without-surgery.aspx?e_cid=20150906Z2_DNL_art_1&utm_source=dnl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=art1&utm_campaign=20150906Z2&et_cid=DM85074&et_rid=1105579098

This series is not intended to be used as a diagnostic tool..It is however a recommendation to find out about areas of the body which are at risk and to ensure that you notice changes that occur.. Nobody else can do that except perhaps someone close to you. This is why it is so important for partners to also keep an eye out for changes in habits that might indicate that there is a problem.

The sooner that prostate cancer is diagnosed the better the outcome. Get Checked.

©Sally Cronin 2018

A bit about my nutritional background.

A little about me from a nutritional perspective. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago. I qualified as a nutritional therapist and practiced in Ireland and the UK as well as being a consultant for radio. My first centre was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Here are my health books including a men’s health manual and my anti-aging book.

All available in Ebook from:  http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

And Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

Comprehensive guide to the body, and the major organs and the nutrients needed to be healthy 360 pages, A4: http://www.moyhill.com/html/just_food_for_health.html

Thank you for dropping in and if you have any questions fire away.. If you would like to as a private question then my email is sally.cronin@moyhill.com. I am no longer in practice and only too pleased to help in any way I can. thanks Sally

 

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Smorgasbord Health 2017 – Top to Toe – Prostate problems and Guest Post – PSA Tests – Yes or No by John Maberry


men's health

Welcome to the next part of the male reproductive system and today an overview of the prostate and health issues to be aware of.  Also a repeat of the guest post by John Maberry on Prostate cancer and the treatments available.

Prostate problems

As women face problems with their uterus, and possible hysterectomies, so men are faced with problems with their prostates. The good news is that in the majority of cases the conditions are benign, and are not going to lead to cancer, but symptoms should always be checked out.

In a young man the prostate is about the size of a walnut and it slowly gets larger as a man matures. If it gets too large, however, it can begin to cause problems with the urinary tract resulting in frequent urination and in some cases discomfort. This is called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and is very common in men over 60 years old. If problems with urination occur especially at night then a doctor should be consulted. Usually a rectal examination or scans will detect the enlarged prostate and appropriate treatment prescribed. If the enlargement of the prostate and the urination problems are relatively mild then it is usually left for a period of time to see if the normal reduction in testosterone will result in a decrease in the size of the prostate.

If the enlargement of the prostate or the symptoms warrant medical intervention it is usual to prescribe either alpha-blockers (can have some nasty side effects) or a testosterone lowering drug. As the testosterone levels decrease the prostate shrinks and the urination problems are solved. However there can be side effects such as loss of sex drive and possible erectile problems.

There is a herb called Saw Palmetto that is taken by many men, who have been diagnosed with an enlarged prostate. As always, I prefer the natural approach but it is important that you consult your doctor before taking any herb in preference to medication to ensure that your progress is monitored carefully.

In extreme cases surgery may be advised if the urination problem does not improve. It can however result in other problems and should be considered carefully beforehand.

Now for the guest post by  John Maberry author of Waiting for Westmoreland and please feel free to comment and share his post.

PSA Tests—Yes or No by John Maberry

You know about PSA tests, right? A simple blood test that measures the level of prostate specific antigens in the bloodstream. The purpose is to detect the likelihood of cancer. This article is about whether to have one or not. First some background.

The prostate is a walnut sized gland that’s wrapped like a horseshoe around a man’s urethra. It’s primary function is to produce semen. Unfortunately, it can also become cancerous. In the U.S. 1 in 7 men will get prostate cancer in their lifetime. It’s the second leading cause of cancer death among American men, behind only (surprisingly) skin cancer. [American Cancer Society] Sounds scary, but only 1 in 38 men will die of it—a statistical disconnect between cancer-caused and other deaths. How so? Most prostate cancer progresses very slowly and starts after age 50, consequently most men die of something else in their senior years—heart attack, stroke, etc. But if it is cancer that kills them, prostate cancer is #2 on the list.

What about elsewhere in the world? According to 2012 statistics from World Health Organization, the incidence is similarly high in the rest of North America, Australia/New Zealand, Northern and Western Europe—probably because of the high level of PSA testing. Mortality is similar in those developed areas but higher in the Caribbean and most regions of Africa, probably as a result of medical treatment not being as available or affordable.

So, you’re a guy or you have one you care about, what about a PSA test? What follows is a whole lot of discussion of what it is and things for you to consider. But before we get to that, let me give you the bottom line—if you’re like me and have a family history of prostate cancer, ignore generic pros and cons and get the test every year or two.

The test entails drawing a small blood sample from a vein (usually in the arm) and sending it to a lab. What happens after that depends on the PSA level detected. Recently the PSA test has come under scrutiny, with one group in America recommending against routine screening. Others still recommend it. See this website for the pro position. Most other groups focused on men’s health or cancer disagree with the con position and have varying qualifiers related to age and family history—with the final decision to be an agreement between the man and his primary care physician. Medicare, and many private insurers still pay for it. Medicaid may or may not. Why the controversy? It relates in part to the limitations of the test itself and in part to what happens after the results come in. See more on the test at the Mayo Clinic site.

Limitations of the test include:

  • False positive results due to prostatitis, BPH, urinary tract infection or other conditions
  • False negatives due to taking certain drugs such as statins, obesity or low PSA despite a tumor
  • Age—PSA rises with age
  • The test by itself doesn’t correlate highly with the age-related risk of death from cancer
  • The risks of side effects from further testing
  • Side effects from treatment that may not be necessary (see more below on what happens after the test

What happens after the test: If the level is high, a retest may be done. A digital rectal exam (a doctor inserts a gloved in finger in the rectum to feel for hardened lumps on the prostate—which may be done in conjunction with or instead of the PSA test as a routine screening test for BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia—enlargement of the prostate that is very common as a man grows older; it causes more frequent urination as the gland squeezes the urethra). Beyond that, a whole host of potentially more costly and invasive (not to mention worrisome) procedures may be done:

  • A test for a urinary tract infection that might inflame the prostate (raising the PSA) as well
  • A transrectal ultrasound to look for tumors
  • A biopsy of the prostate (accessed through the rectum, the perineum or up the penis); this procedure itself can have side effects such as bleeding, infection and irritation

If the follow up tests confirm the presence of cancer this is where things get complicated

  • Is it the typical slow-growing cancer that will cause no problems before you die or the faster growing kind that requires action?

o Newer PSA velocity tests will note whether your PSA level is climbing quickly—a sign of a fast growing cancer

o The Gleason score measures how fast a cancer is growing—it ranges from 2-10, with 10 being quickest and most likely to spread. [My father died of prostate cancer in 1954 at age 48 and it had metastasized widely; my brother had his prostate removed in 1999 at age 68 when an ultrasound confirmed tumors after a high PSA score of 9.9 and a medium Gleason score—he is still alive and kicking at 84] See more on Gleason score here.

  • You have two basic options—watchful waiting or active surveillance with periodic retests (depends on your age) or treatment to remove the cancer
  • Treatments include [See more at Mayo]:

o Radiation—external beamed into the body or brachytherapy (rice grain sized pellets inserted in your body)

o Hormone therapy that reduces testosterone (the hormone helps the cancer grow)

o Cryotherapy (freezing prostate tissue)

o Biological therapy, also known as immunotherapy

o Surgery to remove the prostate

  • The bad news: all of the treatments, except possibly the hormone therapy, have a significant risk of urinary incontinence or erectile dysfunction. This is where the issue of overtreatment becomes real and is a core part of the argument against screening—the doctor finds a cancer and the man gets treatment with side effects when if the prostate were left alone the cancer wouldn’t kill him.

So, as noted before, if you’re like me with a family history of prostate cancer the answer is clear—get the test. If you are of African descent, probably should get the test too. In any case, ask your doctor. Don’t stick your head in the sand and hope for the best.

About John Maberry.

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John Maberry dreamed of being a writer from second grade. Life got in his way. Like what, you may ask. Find out the details in Waiting for Westmoreland, the memoir he wrote about how he came to have a happy and successful life. That, after surviving a hard childhood, failed marriages, an eye opening year in Vietnam and more. He finished the memoir five years after retiring from a local government job in busy Northern Virginia.

That’s John in the photo, relaxing with his friend Larry the Lizard. He met Larry in Mimbres,
New Mexico. John and his wife relocated to scenic New Mexico six years ago. That move and other priorities, stalled the transition to speculative fiction, mysteries and writing genres. Finally, The Fountain, a collection of speculative fiction stories, is coming out in July, 2017. He’s also working on a few novels, planning for one every one to two years. No more delays, time is fleeting.

When not working on the novels or the websites, the family enjoys life in their dream home high atop a hill. His wife of 35+ years has her quilting/craft room. He has an office shared with an energetic dog who lounges on a loveseat behind him when not out chasing rabbits. He’s a happy man and a funny guy (strange/weird his wife says).

Books by John Maberry

About John’s latest release – The Fountain and six more fantasy & Scifi stories.

Humor, twists and more in this collection of seven fantasy and sci-fi short stories. Karma can be painful in “The Fountain”–when a plunderer meets a long-dead shaman. A family adopts a retriever with special talents in “Lily, an Amazing Dog.” A vampire has a strange problem, in “Alfred’s Strange Blood Disorder.” A perennial favorite, dimensional travel, with a strange twist in “The Closet Door.” What could that column of fire be, rising from the Atlantic off the Outer Banks? Read “The Flame” to find out what it meant to troubled writer Carson. A wizard casts a spell that works well for a princess, but will it be as good for him? Check out “The Wizard.” Finally, “The Fribble” offers an alien encounter of an odd sort, to a pharmaceutical company rep searching for new drugs in the Amazon Rain forest.

One of the early reviews for the book

If you enjoy short stories in fantasy/sci-fi genres, and stories that make you think then look no further than Maberry’s tales which will engross you with stories about karma, greed, time travel, aliens and muses.

In this book you will read stories about: a dog with extra sensory perception, a writer battling his own sub-conscience, a wizard who wonders if the spells he casts for others will work for himself, a man who experiences 2 lifetimes by opening a closet door. These are just a few of the stories to stimulate your reading appetite.

Maberry is a prolific writer who knows how to keep a reader captivated till the end and finishes his stories with an unexpected twist. This book also offers an excerpt to the author’s next upcoming novel. As in true Maberry style, he leaves us hanging in anticipation with more to come. A great read!

Read the reviews and buy the collection: https://www.amazon.com/Fountain-more-fantasy-sci-fi-stories-ebook/dp/B071KLTTJR

Read all the reviews and buy both books: https://www.amazon.com/John-Maberry/e/B002BM82FU

Connect with John.

My quarterly webzine on my Eagle Peak Press site
My book website, Waiting for Westmoreland
Writing blog, John Maberry’s Writing
Eclectic blog, Views from Eagle Peak

Social Media:

My thanks again to John for sharing this post and it is worth sharing as the message needs to be driven home…. #Get Checked

All the top to toe posts can be found in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-health-2017-top-to-toe/

 

Smorgasbord Health 2017 -Top to Toe – The Male Reproductive System – Part One


men's health I am aware that some of you will have also seen these articles before on Men’s Health but I hope the message that they are trying to convey will encourage you to read again and also to share.

Understanding how our bodies work is the first step to prevention and then next and very vital step is knowing when something is not right. Early diagnosis saves lives and not only impacts your life but those closest to you.

The articles are aimed at increasing awareness about diseases, that if diagnosed early, can be monitored or treated to ensure that they do not reach a point where the outcome is fatal.

Both men and women are aware of the external components of their bodies but what lies beneath the skin is where silent killers prefer to lurk. Most of us did biology at school, but the nearest I got to seeing the internal reproductive organs, was the horrifying sight of a splayed dissected frog on a work bench one science lesson.

This means that most of us do not have a working knowledge of the organs or the systems that make up this amazing and miraculous system that reproduces another human being.

This series is not just aimed at men but to their partner in life.  They often notice changes in our bodies or our normal behaviour before we do. Also in the case of men, it is often their partners who are doing the shopping and the cooking. Diet and lifestyle play a crucial part in our health and having someone working with you to ensure you are eating a balanced diet is ideal.

Between 16 to 19 million men will die worldwide in the next 12 months. It is estimated that once you take out the non-medical reasons that over 65% of those men will die from noncommunicable diseases. This term applies largely to what I call Lifestyle induced disease.

The top killers of men are:-

  1. Cardiovascular disease
  2. Certain cancers such as lung and prostate,
  3. Chronic lung disease,
  4. Diabetes. 

The formula for most of these diseases that are lifestyle related are:

Diet + Lifestyle choices + lack of exercise + stress.

I will be posting articles on the male reproductive system since this is what makes men unique from women. This is as important for the women in your life as it is to you. Since diet and lifestyle plays such a fundamental role in our health it is also important that if you are in a relationship that you are on the same page about this.

In my years of working in nutrition with clients, I soon discovered that when I reached the point where I was designing an eating programme for someone to improve their health or to lose weight, I needed to ask their partner along.  This came about after a wife accosted me in the supermarket one day. She gave me a severe talking to about how her cooking had been good enough for 25 years for her husband and how dare I suggest otherwise. I do most of the cooking in our household and I do understand the issue. Actually we did all work together and her husband lost five stone and was able to come off his blood pressure meds.. She also lost two stone and gave him a run for his money.

My point being? If you do decide that you need to make changes to your diet and lifestyle to improve your health or diet, don’t do it in isolation. Work together with your partner and explain the reasons why you want to make the changes and the benefits at the end of the day.  In some cases this could mean you being around for several more years so it is an important discussion.

The male reproductive system

Although this first comment has raised many a laugh over the years…the drivers behind our reproductive systems are indeed all in the mind.  Of course we will have certain organs in place before birth. However, it is the master controllers in the brain that will send out messages at various stages in our lives to increase or decrease the reproductive system’s development and activity levels.

You can find the posts on the brain in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-health-2017-top-to-toe/

For the purposes of this series though I want to focus on the physical aspects of the system.

Although the male reproductive system is not quite as complex as the female system it still is prone to infections and diseases that can affect men at different stages in their lives.

As with women, men’s reproductive organs are divided into two parts, the internal and external organs and the gonads called the testes. When boys reach puberty, between 10-14 years old, gonadotropic hormones are secreted by the pituitary gland in the brain and the gonads grow and become active. The gonadotropic hormones also stimulate the production of the androgens or testosterone hormones, which in turn will promote the growth, and development of external genitalia as well as stimulating changes in the larynx. One of the outward signs of a boy reaching puberty is his voice breaking and then becoming deeper over the next few months.

The male reproductive organs are external and internal and include the testicles; duct system made up of the epididymis and vas deferens, the spermatic cord, the seminal vesicles and the penis.

The testicles or testes are oval shaped and grow to about 2 inches (5 centimetres) in length and 1 inch (3 centimetres) in width. They are formed in the embryo from a ridge of tissue at the back of the abdomen. They gradually move down the abdomen during the pregnancy, reaching the scrotum in time for the birth. They consist of seminiferous tubules, where sperm is manufactured and interstitial cells which produce the hormone testosterone. As a boy matures he produces more and more testosterone, so in addition to his deepening voice, he will develop more body hair, bigger muscles and produce sperm.

Alongside the testes are the epididymis and the vas deferens of the male duct system. The epididymis consists of elaborately coiled tubes that are attached to the back of each testis. These carry the sperm into the vas deferens, an extension of the epididymis that has become a muscular tube that takes the sperm up into the penis in semen.

The testes and the duct system are protected by a skin bag called the scrotum. One of its main roles is to maintain a slightly lower temperature than the rest of the body otherwise the testes will be unable to produce sperm.

There is a complex connective system between the penis and the testes called the spermatic cord that not only suspends the testes but contains and protects the blood vessels, sperm and hormone carrying tubes, nerves and lymph system that supply the scrotum. It is also covered by a number of layers including the cremasteric muscle, which is responsible for contracting the scrotum in extremes of temperature or during ejaculation.

As the sperm move up the vas deferens they pause in a storage area called the ampulla where they are bathed in seminal fluid from the vesicles situated just above each side of the prostate gland. This fluid stimulates the sperm to move spontaneously and actively as it passes through the prostate gland and penis into the vagina.

The prostate gland is a very small walnut shaped structure that sits at the base of the bladder and surrounds the ejaculatory ducts at the base of the urethra. Its role is to produce an alkaline fluid that mixes with the semen from the vesicles before it is passed into the penis to be ejaculated. This probably acts as a booster for the sperm keeping them active and therefore more likely to fertilise an egg should the opportunity arise. Unfortunately problems with the prostate can arise as men age and this either results in difficulties with the bladder or actual disease of the prostate. I will cover that in more detail later in the series.

The shaft of the penis contains a central tube, the urethra, leading to a small hole in the head of the penis called the meatus. This enables urine to pass from the bladder and out of the body or allows for the ejaculation of semen during intercourse. Because the urethra has a dual purpose, a strong muscle ring at the connection between the bladder and the tube ensures that urine only passes through when intended.

The penis is made up of groups of tissue that are responsible for erections. These tissues are supplied with a rich network of blood vessels, which become distended when a man is aroused. The blood is unable to flow back into the body and the penis therefore stiffens and rises as the internal pressure increases. After ejaculation the blood flow reduces to normal levels and the penis returns to a flaccid state.

All boys are born with a fold of skin that protects the glans from injury. This is called the foreskin and during an erection this peels back to allow the tip to be stimulated during intercourse. A lubricant called smegma is produced by the foreskin and the skin on the glans to make this action smooth, but poor hygiene, or irritants can lead to severe infections. Circumcision is often carried out on baby boys for both religious and health reasons.

Next time- The hormone element – Testosterone.

©sallygeorginacronin – Forget the Viagra, Pass Me a Carrot – Men’s health workshop manual 2012.

Smorgasbord Health – A -Z of Common Conditions – Cancer – Prostate


A-Z

Some of you may have read this during Men’s Health Week last year but I do believe that it is a post worth repeating so that there is an awareness to act sooner rather than later if there is even the slightest change in the way our body behaves.

My father was diagnosed at age 77 with prostate cancer and it was at least stage three. This was twenty-five years ago and the treatment is radiation and lots of it. It gave him time but the last year was very hard on him. The radiation had caused a blood disorder that required him to have a regular blood-transfusions and good naturedly he would present himself at the hospital on the designated Friday.. My father loved his food and the day is significant… they served fish ‘n’ chips.  Eventually he required these transfusions weekly and after a short period of time he passed away aged 80.

Today there have been huge advancements in the detection and treatment of prostate cancer and the prognosis is much improved. But it is dependent on a very important factor and that is early detection.

I explored some very frightening figures after an image was posted on facebook from Just Eat Real Food that claimed that from 1900 the risk of developing cancer had increased dramatically from 1 in 30 to 1 in 2.  Many people thought that this could not be true.  Well it appears that it well might be.

In the UK, Cancer Research UK states that for those born after 1960 there is a 1 in 2 chance of developing a cancer of one type or another… This will be reflected in other countries who have adopted a highly industrialised food chain which includes mass farming methods and chemical and hormonal  ‘enhancements’ at each phase of the production process.

We all have rogue cells that are pre-cancerous but if we have a strong immune system these cells either self-distruct or are contained by our own defences.

However, if those defences are weakened by a nutritionally deficient diet, those actions will not occur and in a sugar rich and oxygen deprived environment, cancer cells will reproduce rapidly.

We are now living longer and as we age so do our cells. As our diet and lifestyle changes in later years, our immune system weakens and the defences are down. It is therefore absolutely possible that 1 in 2 of us will develop some form of cancer in our lifetime. The difference being that cancers that develop in our bodies in our 80s and 90s are likely to grow slowly and outlive us.

http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/risk/lifetime-risk#heading-Zero

Male reproductive health issues

As women face problems with their uterus, and possible hysterectomies, so men are faced with problems with their prostates. The good news is that in the majority of cases the conditions are benign, and are not going to lead to cancer, but symptoms should always be checked out.

male_internal_side

What is the prostate?

The prostate gland is a very small walnut shaped structure that sits at the base of the bladder and surrounds the ejaculatory ducts at the base of the urethra. Its role is to produce an alkaline fluid that mixes with the semen from the vesicles before it is passed into the penis to be ejaculated. This probably acts as a booster for the sperm keeping them active and therefore more likely to fertilise an egg should the opportunity arise.

In a young man the prostate is about the size of a walnut and it slowly gets larger as a man matures. If it gets too large, however, it can begin to cause problems with the urinary tract resulting in frequent urination and in some cases discomfort. This is called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and is very common in men over 60 years old.

If problems with urination occur especially at night then a doctor should be consulted. Usually a rectal examination or scans will detect the enlarged prostate and appropriate treatment prescribed. If the enlargement of the prostate and the urination problems are relatively mild then it is usually left for a period of time to see if the normal reduction in testosterone will result in a decrease in the size of the prostate.

If the enlargement of the prostate or the symptoms warrant medical intervention it is usual to prescribe either alpha-blockers (can have some nasty side effects) or a testosterone lowering drug. As the testosterone levels decrease the prostate shrinks and the urination problems are solved. However there can be side effects such as loss of sex drive and possible erectile problems.

In extreme cases surgery may be advised if the urination problem does not improve. It can however result in other problems and should be considered carefully beforehand.

Prostate cancer

Women dread the words breast, ovary or uterine cancer and for men it is prostate cancer. As with most cancers if it is found early then the chances of recovery are very good. Unfortunately the early signs of cancer can be confused with BPH which is why it is an excellent idea to consult a doctor the moment you feel there is a change to your urination in any way. This is especially true if you develop a burning sensation or pain during urination or there is blood present in the urine. Sometimes there could also be blood in semen, pain in the back, hips or pelvis and painful ejaculation. There can also be an innocent and harmless cause of some of these symptoms but it is important to clarify the situation immediately with your doctor.

Apart from a physical examination a doctor will also conduct a blood test to determine the levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA). These may be higher in men with either an enlarged prostate or cancer and it is backed up by an ultrasound to establish any abnormalities in the gland.

Usually a biopsy is necessary to confirm the diagnosis and is commonly done by the doctor under local anaesthetic.

Treatment

These days if the cancer is in the early stages and slow growing it will be monitored regularly to determine if the next stage in the treatment is necessary. Treatments are being refined and reviewed continually and your doctor will have the latest information at hand.

The most common type of surgery is a radical prostatectomy where the whole prostate and some surrounding tissue is removed. This may result in loss of sexual function or urinary problems that may not correct themselves. There is a modified operation that reduces the risk of nerve damage and therefore impotence that some men will be offered if appropriate.

Radiation treatment is used in some cases prior to surgery to kill cancerous cells and shrink the tumour and following surgery to ensure that all harmful cells have been eliminated. There are two kinds of radiation, externally beamed into the prostate and internally where radioactive “seeds” are placed in the prostate itself, into or near the actual tumour. There can be some side effects with this treatment including impotence and incontinence, which will have to be managed in the long term.

Following radiation, patients may be offered hormonal treatment to prevent the cancer from reoccurring or if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. This will usually result in menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes as well as a loss of sexual desire.

Now to a different perspective on prostate cancer treatment.

This in no way negates the need to get checked, as a physical examination is key to determining if there is a problem with the prostate. Whilst unpleasant (and trust me we women have equally invasive examinations) a few minutes of embarrassment or discomfort is better than years of treatment and doubt about the outcome.

Today treatments are targeted very specifically in the area affected and as you will read a different approach to beginning treatment is usually followed if the cancer is in the very early stages. A ‘watch carefully and wait and see’ strategy is particularly relevant if the patient is in their late 70s and 80s as certain cancers have a less aggressive growth pattern as we age.

Do read the article so that should you face a diagnosis of prostate cancer you can ask all the right questions to ensure that you explore all the options available. Be aware that different consultants have their own approach to specific cancers and whilst the ‘wait and see’ strategy is widely adopted in the UK it may be very different where you live.

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/09/06/survive-prostate-cancer-without-surgery.aspx?e_cid=20150906Z2_DNL_art_1&utm_source=dnl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=art1&utm_campaign=20150906Z2&et_cid=DM85074&et_rid=1105579098

This series is not intended to be used as a diagnostic tool..It is however a recommendation to find out about areas of the body which are at risk and to ensure that you notice changes that occur.. Nobody else can do that except perhaps someone close to you. This is why it is so important for partners to also keep an eye out for changes in habits that might indicate that there is a problem.

The sooner that prostate cancer is diagnosed the better the outcome. Get Checked.

You will find other posts in the A – Z of Common Conditions in the directory.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-health-a-z-of-common-condition/

 

Men’s Health Week Revisited – Guest Post – Bottling It Up by Geoff Le Pard


men's healthMy thanks to Geoff Le Pard for contributing this post with its important message to Men’s Health Week. My own father was diagnosed with prostate cancer at age 76 but died from the effects of the treatment four years later. That was 20 years ago and both the treatment options and survival rates are now improving dramatically.  Provided the disease is detected early enough.

Please read Geoff’s post and if you are male and over 50 then #GETCHECKED.

Bottling it Up by Geoff Le Pard

My father died on 12th March 2005. He had prostate cancer, as well as secondaries on bones and lungs but it was the prostate that did for him. His last night, in Poole hospital, he could no longer speak. He did however manage a small wave of two fingers when I came into the room after he woke. He was heavily medicated so it could have had nothing to do with my entry, but I like to imagine it was a knowing hello and farewell. I’m romantic like that.

That is hindsight. At the time, with the doctors saying death was imminent I was a mix of naturally sad and bloody furious. With him.

geoffs-father

He was 78. Until he was 75 we undertook a weekly walk with a friend along one of Britain’s long distance footpaths, usually 100 miles or so over the 9 days we had; but then it stopped. He seemed fit enough, he just made excuses. He was always fit and active, tramping the four corners of the New Forest where he lived, hunting his beloved bugs. He’d go for miles, lost in his entomological dream world, happily teasing apart the heather or turning over sallow leaves. But even that began to fade.

geoff-and-father-twoHe turned 77 in November 2003. He had a long running cold and when we arrived for his birthday we joked at his new weight loss programme of sneezes. By the New Year the weight loss was no joke anymore and rapid tests had him in hospital. Just after the start of February 2004 he was told he had prostate cancer, bone cancer and an ‘odd’ tumour on his lungs. The doctors weren’t hopeful he had long but medical advances are such they reduced the lung tumour quickly and slowed the prostate. By the June he was fit enough to come with mum and my brother to Cornwall to see the Eden Project.   We wheeled mum, who had recently had a hip op, and dad all over that old quarry. With his irrepressible sense of humour to the fore, he ordered us ‘to charge the heathen’ as we approached a somewhat bemused school party. ‘Faster, boy, faster.’ You knew he was his old self when he stopped using my name and reverted to his favoured appellation for me of ‘boy’.

geoffs-father-and-him

Behind this short lived jollity I was becoming increasingly angry. I learnt early that neither mum nor dad were in a fit state of mind to absorb all the awful diagnoses imparted by the variety of oncologists they saw so I insisted on coming to every appointment. And gradually I learnt about the problems he had had: difficulty urinating, the recurrent urge to pee, especially at night; discomfort peeing. The ignored back pain and the pain in his arms (from the secondary bone cancer). Some numbness from spinal compression. The signs were there and the signs were ignored.

Later mum would say he was a private man, he was of a stoic generation. What she meant was he disliked being embarrassed and while he may have had a scatological sense of humour he couldn’t discuss his own urinary malfunctions. He couldn’t show weakness.

Of course I recognised that man. His stubbornness took him a long way in life, given several setbacks. His refusal to give into to his fears was often noble. In the world of work, during his time in the forces at the end of WW2 those traits were seen as admirable.

But they also killed him. I have no doubt whatsoever that he had the constitution, absent those controllable cancers to still be alive now. And as I approach 60 I would much rather the old bugger was there, calling me boy and gently mocking my organisational incompetence than remembering a brave stubborn little fighter who in the final analysis forgot one of the most important lessons in a fight and that is you are stronger in a team than on your own.

Get yourself checked. If you are embarrassed about the nature of a prostate examination, and frankly a latexed digit up the anus has never been in my top ten bucket list ambitions, then think, not so much about yourself but all those others who will be left bereft by your selfishness if you don’t.

I loved my father, still do. I still hear him chiding me. And of course I know it wasn’t deliberate and it is me being selfish. But still, I can’t stop thinking how much better it would be to be able to answer him back.

geoffs-father-with-beer

About Geoff Le Pard

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Geoff Le Pard (not Geoffrey, except to his mother) was born in 1956 and is a lawyer who saw the light. He started writing (creatively) in 2006 following a summer school course. Being a course junkie he had spells at Birkbeck College, twice at Arvon and most recently at Sheffield Hallam where he achieved an MA in Creative Writing.

And what did he learn?

That they are great fun, you meet wonderful people but the best lessons come from the unexpected places. He has a line of books waiting to be published but it has taken until now to find the courage to go live.

He blogs at http://geofflepard.com/ on anything and everything. His aim is for each novel to be in a different style and genre. Most people have been nice about his writing (though when his brother’s dog peed on the manuscript he was editing, he did wonder) but he knows the skill is in seeking and accepting criticism. His career in the law has helped prepare him.

Books by Geoff Le Pard

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Buy Geoff’s books

Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/Geoff-Le-Pard/e/B00OSI7XA0

Connect with Geoff

Blog: http://geofflepard.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/geofflepard
Google+ : https://plus.google.com/+GeoffLepard01/posts

 

Please feel free to comment and share this important message from Geoff with others. You may encourage a man who might have ignored symptoms to get checked. Thanks Sally

 

 

Men’s Health Week Revisited – Some statistics and the posts to come.


men's health

An estimated 56 million people die each year worldwide.Tragically, 6 million children die before the age of five years old and of the remaining 50 million, more men than women will die at certain life stages. Particularly during the years 18 to 24. After that it will converge.

However, assuming that there is a more or less an even division, it is estimated that 25 million men will die in the next twelve months. It is even more disturbing that 65% to 75% of those men, depending on the report, will die from noncommunicable diseases.

Noncommunicable includes the top four diseases – Cardiovascular, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung diseases. Diseases that are usually lifestyle related.

That means that in the next twelve months 16.25 million to 18.75 million men will die from mainly preventable diseases. Or diseases that if detected early enough can be cured.

I have worked with both men and women in my capacity as a health counsellor.  For weight management, but also pre-operative preparation and post-operative nutritional support. Men in particular will admit to only going to the doctor after several months of worrying symptoms or because they were nagged by their wives.

It is recognised that far too many men are being diagnosed with potentially fatal diseases too late.

There are a number of actually quite valid reasons for this. Some are personal, cultural and genetic! However, over the next few weeks as we revisit the posts from last year; I hope to convince all men to look at this from a different perspective.

If you have a partner and a family you owe it to them to be around for a very long time. If single you owe it to yourself to look after your greatest asset, which is your health. The reasons for not being checked are easily worked around and in my first post  I will show you strategies to do that. Ways to get checked for some of the key indicators to your health. Completely free or at a very reasonable cost, during hours that suit you, often with free expert advice and assistance thrown in.

During the the rest of the series I will post articles on the male reproductive system with symptoms you should be aware of. Prostate Cancer and how early diagnosis and targeted treatment can save your life.  Heart disease and symptoms to be keep an eye open for. Stress and how to manage to prevent your body developing many physical and mental lifestyle related health issues. Diabetes and how you, and the person buying and preparing your food, need to work together to reduce your risk. I also have a six week programme to reduce both Blood Pressure and LDL cholesterol levels.

I will be taking a look at some of the silent killers that we invite into our lives. One in particular would seem to be very innocuous.. and 11billion of them are eaten each year in the UK alone.

There are some guest posts lined up from men who have shared their health experiences and those of members of their families. Delighted that Geoff Le Pard, Kevin Cooper and John Maberry have contributed.

I hope that you will join me next Monday for the start of Men’s Health Week revisited and help spread the message to #Getchecked.