Fast cars and football are the usual topics of male conversation, but Movember has put the spotlight on men’s health. While prostate cancer is a key focus of this annual awareness campaign, Professor Abhay Rane OBE, urology consultant at Spire Gatwick Park Hospital, has advice on a wee problem that causes huge anxiety among men aged 50-plus.
“Do you get up several times in the night to go to the loo? Are long car journeys marked by frequent stops at motorway service stations? Has the most important question in your life become `where is the nearest toilet’?
If the answer to any of the above is yes, then you may have an enlarged prostate gland or what is known as Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) It's particularly common in men over 50 years of age and isn't usually a serious threat to health. However, these symptoms can be embarrassing, stressful and exhausting.
See your GP if your symptoms become persistent. You will have a rectal examination to see if the prostate gland is enlarged and a blood sample taken to test for prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels. You may be referred to hospital for further tests if family history, symptoms, and a raised PSA level indicate signs of prostate cancer. Don’t panic though if your first PSA test is raised many men with a raised PSA level have a benign enlargement of the prostate, not cancer.
The treatment for BPH will depend on the severity of your symptoms. If mild, your doctor may just monitor your condition and ask you to track your symptoms before deciding if any treatment is necessary. Medication can include tablets to either relax the muscles of the bladder making it easier to pass urine, or shrink the size of the prostate gland. Surgery is normnally only recommended for moderate to severe symptoms where medication hasn’t helped, and this usually involves surgical removal of part the enlarged prostate; although very safe and effective, surgical removal can give rise to sexual side effects. A less invasive procedure called Urolift was accredited by NICE in January last year, and now around 5% of my patients are treated this way. It can be done as a day case; importantly it doesn’t affect the patient’s sex life.
Importantly, having an enlarged prostate doesn’t have to be an accepted part of getting older for men. There is a range of help available – men don’t need to suffer in silence.”
- Keep a diary - monitor what, and how much, you drink, and record how frequently you visit the toilet. This is useful information for your GP when making a diagnosis.
- Don’t self-medicate with herbal remedies – these can artificially lower the PSA level masking a more serious condition.
- Eat foods rich in lycopene such as tomatoes – lycopene is thought to protect against cell damage and thought to be beneficial for prostate health.
For more information about enlarged prostate visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/prostate-enlargement
For more information about men’s health, visit www.movember.com
Professor Abhay Rane OBE is a urology consultant for Spire Gatwick Park Hospital in Povey Cross Road, Horley. To book a consultation, call 01293 778 906 or email email@example.com.
Originally published in the Surrey Mirror, November 2015.