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A Woman’s Guide to Prostate Cancer

One in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime.

How women can help.

Women need to know that prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men.

You also should know that the survival rate is very high when detected early. Unfortunately, most men would rather have a tooth drilled than their prostate checked. “Bug them,” said Courtney Shands, III, MD, FACS, a urologist on-staff at Missouri Baptist Medical Center. “If you know there’s a history of prostate cancer in the family, remind them that their risk doubles. And, they should be checked ten years earlier than age 50, when men with no family history of the disease should begin screenings. They shouldn’t wait until it’s too late. They should check early, when it’s curable.” “Even if there is no family history of the disease, bug them anyway,” Dr. Shands said. “Ask them to check for you because you don’t want to lose them and it’s the smart thing to do. Remind them that it’s painless, quick and it’s free twice a year at Missouri Baptist Medical Center. Otherwise, most insurance plans cover it.”

Detecting Prostate Cancer Early.

By combining a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test, which reveals the amount of PSA in the blood – with a digital rectal exam (DRE), men can improve their overall rate of prostate cancer detection. So why do men delay testing? “They’re embarrassed,” explained Dr. Shands. “They want to remain invincible. They’re afraid what might be found. All it takes is a simple blood test, you move to another room for the rectal exam, and it’s done. This test tells you if a PSA level is high and you’re at risk. The test is a safeguard for men who would never even have known or experienced any symptoms – until the disease would lead to their death.”

The prostate is a walnut-sized gland that sits below the bladder and adjacent to the rectum. Doctors check the prostate by putting a finger into a man’s rectum. By pressing against the wall of the rectum, the doctor can feel the prostate and check its size and rigidity.

The main purpose of the prostate is to propel the ejaculate that carries sperm. The most common prostate problem is an enlarged prostate. While benign, an enlarged prostate often causes urination problems (difficulty starting urination, weak flow, inability to empty the bladder completely, frequent urination at night, sudden urge to urinate, etc.) It’s important to recognize these symptoms because prostate cancer can cause an enlarged prostate and lead to the same symptoms.
da Vinci® Prostatectomy.
Today, men have better treatment options for prostate cancer, including da Vinci® robotic surgery to remove the prostate, which carries a decreased risk of impotency and incontinence. In fact, many prostate cancer survivors enjoy a normal, healthy sex life. “Since we’ve been using the da Vinci to perform prostate surgery, our patients have benefited from shorter hospital stays, less pain, less blood loss and scarring, and faster recovery,” said Dr. Shands. “More importantly, studies suggest that this procedure may offer improved cancer control.”

“Prostate cancer is a silent disease, so be screened. It doesn’t hurt. It’s quick, safe and it could save your life.”

Dr. Courtney Shands is a board-certified urologist and on staff at Missouri Baptist Medical Center. He received his medical degree from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, and completed a combined internship/residency in surgery followed by a fellowship in urology at Vanderbilt University Hospital and Clinic.

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