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BEWARE OF YOUR PROSTATE

Odler Robert Jeanlouie, MD


 









In 1999, 175,000 Americans were diagnosed with prostate cancer. In year 2000, at least one has already come down with the disease, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani of New York City.  The disease is of very common occurrence. It is the number one cancer in males beyond 55 and the number two in the population at large. The number one cancer in the US is skin cancer. Women don't have prostate cancer for the simple reason that they don't have a prostate gland.  Prostate cancer is much more common in Blacks than in Whites, for reasons which have remained so far undefined. So, men of Afro ascent have to be much more careful than than average Joe or... Guiliani. What is the prostate?  The urines made by the kidneys accumulates in the bladder. When the bladder is full, the urines flows out through a canal called the urethra. For obvious reasons, the urethra is short in women and long in men.  On the path of the male urethra is a the prostate gland. Its function is to secrete seminal fluid. This fluid mixes with the spermatozoa to produce the semen. It is a lubrication substance comparable to the female lubrication substance. How do you know you have prostate cancer?  You may never know until the day you want to urinate and finds out that you can't.  In this case, the prostate being increased in size would have impinged on the urethra canal and prevent the normal physiological function of micturition (urination).  Other accompanying or revealing symptoms may also be severe bone pain because once the cancer moves beyond the localized stage, it breaks into your bloodstream, travels with your blood and starts growing in your bones, invading your skeleton, but also your lungs, etc...  The best way to prevent this scenario is to submit to a yearly medical examination.  A digital rectal examination will clue toward any suspect growth of the gland. A blood test, on the market since 1991, the PSA (prostate specific antigen) when elevated, will also raise suspicion. However, sometimes the test is elevated while actually the prostate is intact or affected only by a benign condition like infection. Treatment  Easy, complete when the cancer is diagnosed early. It involved surgery (knifing the mischievious gland out), radiation (killing of the bad cells with X-rays), seed implantation (killing the cancer cells with radioactive substance implanted around the gland), hormonal (administration of anti male hormones, since testosterone seems to be a major culprit).  The medical literature reports several cases of prostate cancer occurring in men below 45!  So, it is advisable to a  male who reaches 40 to submit himself to the yearly screening process... Take home message  Prostate cancer is a frequent equal opportunity offender, any male can have it. It is curable when caught early. Has your dad gone to his doctor yet this year? (OdlerRobert Jeanlouie, Friday, April 28, 2000)

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