By Steve L. Lim, MD, DPBU, FPUA, MHA
One of the biggest challenges in promoting prostate healthis awareness. The prostate glandplays a vital reproductive role in men but can have several issues with advancing age. Awareness of the two most important prostate-related illnesses—prostate cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)—is an important advocacy for urologists.
Enlargement of the prostate may present with gradual onset of symptoms such as too-frequent urinations in the day or night, the need to strain, a weak urine flow, or difficulty in starting urination. BPH, the most common form of prostate enlargement, usually presents with such symptoms, which can range from mild, to the most severe manifestation of being unable to urinate altogether.
Prostate cancer, another form of prostate enlargement, is the third most common cancer among men in the Philippines, with symptoms that are relatively silent in the early course of the disease but which can later present with similar symptoms as BPH. Some can have additional concerning symptoms of blood in the urine or symptoms of cancer spread, like bone pains. We also check on factors like a strong family history of prostate disease, or high-risk lifestyle factors like a history of smoking. Sometimes it can be difficult to distinguish BPH from cancer with these symptoms and history alone. It’s the urologist’s task to distinguish which is which; fortunately, we are now equipped with skills and tools to detect, to slow the progression of, or even cure prostate cancer. The key is to talk to your favorite urologist and seek his or her guidance.
Many aging men accept deterioration in urinary habits as inevitable, but this doesn’t have to be the case. Wenow have an armamentarium of medications, surgical techniques, and non-invasive modalities to manage prostate disease well and give our patients the best possible quality of life. As such, urologists have an advocacy to spread awareness about prostate health. We encourage males aged 45 and above to seek consultation early for general counseling on prostate health, as well as timely prostate cancer screening. Families, friends, wives, and partners also have a great role in encouraging male friends and family to seek this care, since we often encounter men who are embarrassed or shy to seek help. Prostate related diseases might not be preventable, but with the help of good health education, we can help Filipino men to detect and address them early.