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Dr. Beck for Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

Dr. Beck for Prostate Cancer Awareness Month


September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, so SCNM Chief Medical Officer Dr. Forrest Beck took some time to tell us about this important aspect of men's health.

What is the prostate?

The prostate is a walnut sized gland located in front of the rectum and behind the bladder.  It is part of the reproductive system that Dr. Beck says "is poorly understood by most men."  They are aware that they have one, but they don't know what they can do to keep it healthy.  It usually isn't something they think about until they notice there is a problem.

Below are the three main prostate issues men experience.  These conditions can cause discomfort, sexual dysfunction and fertility issues if left untreated.  

Pain during urination

Typically caused by prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate.) This inflammation narrows the urethra, making urination uncomfortable.  Prostatitis can be caused by injury, infection or an immune system disorder.

Benign prostatic hyperplasia

Also known as BPH, benign prostatic hyperplasia is an increase in cells in the prostate that causes enlargement of the gland.  BPH is very common in older men.  2/3 men over the age of 60 experience incomplete urination as well as "weak stream" due to pressure caused by BPH.

Prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer among men.  It is a very slow growing form of cancer. In fact, many men who die of natural causes are found to have prostate cancer that was unrelated to their death.  While all cancer should be treated seriously, many men overreact to a diagnosis.  Fear of prostate cancer can cause men to take radical steps including radiation chemotherapy.  These types of treatments have high risk side effects and reduce a patient's quality of life while undergoing them. This degree of treatment is not always necessary.

Screening for prostate cancer

The standard forms of testing for prostate cancer are a PSA (prostate-specific antigen) blood tests and digital rectal exams.  These methods are commonplace, but have recently been found to not be very effective.  A new article from Harvard Medical School states that a 50 year old man that decides not to gets screened has 0.6% chance of dying from prostate cancer in next 10-15 years, while getting screened only drops this chance to 0.5%.  More effective forms of screening are yet to be developed, so preventative measures are the best way to keep the prostate healthy. 

How to maintaining a healthy prostate

There are a number of steps men can take right now to improve the health of their prostate.  Dr. Beck says, ""We know if you reduce your weight that helps.  Excess estrogen which comes about due to weight gain tends to increase the size of the prostate." A quality nutrition plan and fitness routine will improve your prostate health as well as your overall well-being.  Ensuring you get the proper nutrients via food and supplements is key.  Zinc (pumpkin seeds are a great source), saw palmetto, pygeum and vitamin E are all important.