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Screening key for your prostate


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POSTED May 29, 2012 6:38 p.m.

And for the majority of men, those problems don’t start until the age of about 40.

The prostate, an integral part of the male reproductive system, can cause three different types of problems for men as they age, from the most common BPH (enlarged prostate) to Prostatitis (inflammation) to Prostate Cancer.

The prostate has two ‘growth spurts’ in males, one during puberty and then a growth period after age 40, which continues at a slow pace. It is in the latter period when problems typically arise and officials agree that is why it is important for men to get regular prostate screenings after the age of 40 – echoing similar calls for women to regular mammograms after that age.

According to the Men’s Health Network, ( a national, non-profit organization that offers information and resources focusing on maintaining men’s health and wellness, the most common prostate health problem among men is BPH, Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia, or an enlarged prostate.

It is estimated that half of the men between 50 and 60 years of age develop this condition and by the age of 80, 90 percent of men will have or have experienced BPH. Treatment for the condition typically falls into one of three categories: the ‘watch and wait’ kind to determine if the enlarged prostate will cause additional problems; drug therapy; or surgery.

Prostatitis is an inflammation of the prostate that may be caused by infection and is the most common prostate problem for men under 50. There are treatments available (antibiotics generally are an effective course) and this condition is not considered a major health risk.

Perhaps the most well-known prostate issue for men is prostate cancer. It is a very slow-growing cancer and most men with this type of cancer do not die because of the disease but live with the cancer and die of some other cause, sometimes many years post-diagnosis.

However, the Men’s Health Network website notes, it is the second leading killer of men behind lung cancer and an estimated 30,000 men die every year of prostate cancer.

Caught early, it is one of the most curable forms of cancer and officials recommend the regular screenings as a way to catch the disease early.

There are also certain risk factors that make men more prone to developing the disease. Being 40 or older with a family history of prostate cancer is the number one risk, with African-American men also at a higher risk. A diet low in fiber and high in fatty foods and red meats can also increase your chances for developing the disease. Treatment varies from radiation therapy to removal of the organ.

Health officials said most men don’t give their prostate much thought until there is a problem but it is something they need to be aware of and take steps to protect, just like keeping blood pressure or cholesterol under control. Regular check-ups are key, as are maintaining healthy weight, an active lifestyle and generally overall good health habits.

Like most health issues, being aware of your body and paying attention to any changes and signals it may be giving you are crucial in keeping your prostate healthy.

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