A beginner’s guide to prostate cancer

A beginner’s guide to prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer in men. But how much do you know about what it means for thousands of men each year? Read on for our beginner’s guide…

So what is a prostate anyway?
The prostate is a gland the size of a walnut that lives just below a man’s bladder. Its job is to produce prostate fluid, which is one of the components of semen, and also to help propel semen into the urethra during ejaculation.

Am I at risk?
Prostate cancer is most often diagnosed in men who are aged over 65. It’s uncommon under the age of 50, but you are at higher risk if a close family member, such as your father or brother, has had prostate cancer. The Prostate Cancer Foundations of New Zealand and Australia recommend regular screening for men aged over 50, and for those over 40 who have a family history of prostate cancer.

Can I do anything to prevent getting it?
There is no magic formula that guarantees you won’t get prostate cancer, but eating a healthy diet, keeping a healthy weight, limiting alcohol to no more than two drinks a day and exercising for 30 minutes a day may help lower your chances.

What symptoms should I look out for?
If you experience a frequent urge to pee, need to get up often during the night, or have poor urine flow or trouble starting or stopping urination, it’s important to tell your doctor. These are common issues for men as they get older, so it’s likely they’re being caused by prostate enlargement not cancer, but it pays to get checked anyway. If you experience pain, fever, swelling of the prostate, or blood and pus in the urine, it could just be an infection of the prostate, but once again see your doctor for advice.

How is it diagnosed?
Start by having a chat with your doctor (you can take a support person if you like). He or she will discuss your risk profile and help you decide whether or not to get tested. Initial testing is likely to include a blood test and a digital rectal exam. If there is any abnormality in either, you’ll be referred to a urologist for a biopsy, which is when a small sample of the prostate tissue is removed so it can be examined in a lab for evidence of cancer.

How is it treated?
Not all prostate cancer needs to be treated. Some men can live with slow-growing prostate cancer for many years, and choose not to undergo treatment. In other cases your doctor may recommend treatment, which could involve radiotherapy, hormone treatment, chemotherapy or surgery to remove the prostate gland.

What are the side effects of treatment, and how can they be managed?
Side effects will vary depending on the treatment but they often include

urinary incontinence,

which many men find distressing. After surgery you are likely to need a catheter for a week, then for the next two or three weeks you will probably need four or five pads a day to cope with heavy

bladder leakage.

Over time, as leakage reduces and the bladder relearns control, many men find Confitex for Men

absorbent underwear

gives them peace of mind for those intermittent, unexpected episodes. They’re designed to look, feel, wash and dry just like ordinary underwear, but with an absorbent, leakproof textile built into the pouch so no pads are needed.

Give them a try today – they could well change your life!

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